Feral goats are said to cause erosion and eat native vegetation on Great Keppel Island.
Feral goats are said to cause erosion and eat native vegetation on Great Keppel Island.

Meeting held about GKI feral goat problem

Goats roaming Great Keppel Island will not be culled on the spot, although no final decision has been reached as to how to deal with them.

Livingstone Shire Council held a meeting on January 15 with GKI stakeholders to discuss what to do about the goats.

Councillor Andrea Friend, the water, waste management, and environment portfolio holder, presided over the meeting.

The problem with the goats, she said, was that they caused erosion and ate native vegetation.

"It was great for a first meeting," Cr Friend said.

"What we discussed is we started off with the history of the feral goats on the island and where they may have come from and how they impacted the environment over a decade.

"Also we had a Brian Smith from the Rural Fire Brigade attend and he talked about fire mitigation and how a small percentage of the goats may certainly help.

"We also had a state government employee there John Reeve who discussed grasses, weeds, etc. and how many goats would help with fire mitigation.

"We talked about the environmental impact on erosion leading into the Great Barrier Reef and the actual wellbeing of the feral goats as well."

The meeting ran for two hours.

In attendance - some over the phone - were mayor Andy Ireland, councillors, Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga, State Government employees, Woppaburra people, property owners, and Altum Property Group's Rob and Leigh McCready as authorised representatives of Tower Holdings.

Some of the meeting's attendees.
Some of the meeting's attendees.

"There will be no culling on the island, but if there is a removal, how many goats do we remove?" Cr Friend said.

"We're looking even at numbers of the goats and the ratio between males and females. Under my watch, unless there is a strategy that it is in a controlled environment, I certainly do not want to see guns and bows and arrows used on the islands."

She said she expected all stakeholders to contribute financially to whatever solution was reached, except for the Woppaburra, who she said lacked money.

Cr Friend said the next meeting would probably not be held for a few months.

"Let's get the discussion happening again and work out a compromise," she said.

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga called it a "productive discussion with some great experience and qualified people in the room.

"The commitment at the meeting was to continue the discussion about using best practice.

"It's not as simple as just making a decision on the spot."

Warinkil Aunty Glenice Croft said she hoped a humane solution would be reached.

"It was good to see friends who live on GKI at this meeting and other concerned friends, as some of them had the true perspective of the goat problem," she said.

"It is a big problem and damaging the environment."