Gristly goats make cliff their home

Terry Roberts
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The two sure-footed ruminants have become quite an attraction for Cupids residents

They have survived bullets and the worst weather Mother Nature can dish out, and still manage to find sustenance on a precarious cliff face overlooking the harbour.

The two goats on Spectacle Head in Cupids have certainly lived up to the species' reputation for being co-ordinated, curious, intelligent and resilient.

Two male goats climb the Spectacle Head cliffs in Cupids. - Submitted photo

Cupids -

They have survived bullets and the worst weather Mother Nature can dish out, and still manage to find sustenance on a precarious cliff face overlooking the harbour.

The two goats on Spectacle Head in Cupids have certainly lived up to the species' reputation for being co-ordinated, curious, intelligent and resilient.

And they've become something of an attraction over the years as they climb like phantoms along the rocks, maintaining their balance on the most precarious terrain imaginable.

"They're there this morning, just down from the American Man (a pile of rocks atop Spectacle Head)," retiree David Akerman said when asked if he had seen the goats recently.

The sure-footed and gristly goats - both males - were recently featured in a souvenir calendar distributed by the Loyal Orange Lodge in Cupids.

Residents who live across the harbour from the hill routinely make it part of their day to look for the animals. Visitors can often be seen parked on the roadside, peering through binoculars or cameras with telephoto lenses, and employees at the local Quin-Sea fish plant have also taken a shine to them.

Fishing crews entering the harbour make a point of eyeing the goats, and a local bed and breakfast even references the goats on its website, encouraging guests to "watch wild goats perched on the majestic landscape ..."

It's not known exactly how long they've been surviving on this cliff. It depends on who you talk to. But estimates range from seven to 15 years.

Area residents are quite familiar with the story of how the goats came to make the cliff their home, but usually shy away from saying who used to own them.

That's likely because of the sensitivity around the issue of animal welfare.

The story goes like this: the area behind the cliff is a well-known pasture, where goat owners would routinely leave their animals during the summer and collect them in the fall.

A bunch of goats were left year-round in the area some years ago, and someone complained to authorities about the abandoned animals. When the owner tried unsuccessfully to collect the goats, which had retreated to the cliff face, he took to a boat and began shooting them in order to at least salvage the meat, or mutton.

Five or six of them were killed, but the two males survived and now live wild.

They're probably the most photographed goats around, said Frank Bishop, who takes care of maintenance at the fish plant located at the base of the hill.

Bishop is amazed at how clever they are, pointing out that they move around the cliff, following the sun's heat, or seek shelter on the side away from the wind.

Bishop said they haven't caused any problems, except for the time they traipsed through freshly poured cement several years ago.

"I don't really pay much attention to them, but I know a lot of people do," he said.

Goats will readily revert to the wild if given the opportunity. Feral goats are a severe problem in Australia, for example, where they are threatening vegetation.

But since the goats on Spectacle Head are both males, that's not a concern, said Dr. Andrew Peacock, a large-animal veterinarian with the Department of Natural Resources in Carbonear.

He was not familiar with the Spectacle Head goats, but wasn't surprised to hear the story.

"Goats don't need very much to survive," Peacock explained.

As for their ability to live on the side of a cliff, it's not a coincidence that rough roads or steep paths are often referred to as a "goat path."

Peacock has seen goats walking along the top of a fence.

"It's got to be a tough life," Peacock offered.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: American Man, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Cupids, Australia, Carbonear

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    So Polly, would it be safe to say, that the Telegram got your goat today?

  • DB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    I think Polly forgot to take her pill today.

  • Business
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Someone should toss a few females up with them. Just thinking forward here to retain the herd and attraction.

  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills. ~Voltaire, letter to Count Schomberg, 31 August 1769
    We use animals for everything from food to clothing . They are man's best friend or our worst enemy . We use tem to sell everything from cars to toilet tissue . Which gets me to the point of all of this .The Health Care system in this province appears to be in tatters , well the very least it is in serious crisis mode and The Telegram's answer to all of that is a front page story on two resilient goats and a young pup seal nursing . There is an old saying that when times get tough, the tough get going ----- with today's top stories The Telegram is telling us that when times get tough , they resort to cozy animal stories . There is nothing like the warm and fuzzy to take one's mind off how truly bad things are in this province .

  • Rhonda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    as per wikipedia - Goat meat from younger animals is called kid or cabrito, and from older animals is sometimes called chevon, or in some areas mutton.

  • Billy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    the owner began shooting them in order to salvage the meat, or MUTTON ?

    When did goat meat get promoted to mutton, or is that a local usage?

  • Kevin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Not a lot happens in my old home town, but this is a great story that has been getting some press time for the past few months.

    I have seen these goats regularly on my annual pilgrimage to NL.

    Always a great sight.

  • Goat
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I'm sure I saw a goat like that in the Southlands area last Christmas?

  • Valerie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    I love these goats! Every morning on my way to work and my return from work I look for them climbing with great agility over the rock face. For me they have a Mascot status. During the winter months they usually go away and I long to see them again as a herald of spring.

  • R
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Seal pups and goats are front page news? Talk about taking the term fluff piece literally. A few days ago it was a giant photo of a man who lost his hockey cards. Yes, hockey cards. I guess The Telegram has finally run out of the Living With (insert disease here), and Social Services Won't Pay for Local Man's (insert item here) filler stories that cater to our irrepressible appetite for the morbid, mediocre and mundane.

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Polly - did you ever think that may John Q Public is tired of reading the same news day in and day out. We already know our healthcare system is a mess - how many different ways do you want it written? A warm and fuzzy story is welcomed from time to time. Not only that, these are the type of articles that help get children interested in newspapers

  • Andy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Slow news day, eh? That's the best you could come up with for today's top story?

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    So Polly, would it be safe to say, that the Telegram got your goat today?

  • DB
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    I think Polly forgot to take her pill today.

  • Business
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Someone should toss a few females up with them. Just thinking forward here to retain the herd and attraction.

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills. ~Voltaire, letter to Count Schomberg, 31 August 1769
    We use animals for everything from food to clothing . They are man's best friend or our worst enemy . We use tem to sell everything from cars to toilet tissue . Which gets me to the point of all of this .The Health Care system in this province appears to be in tatters , well the very least it is in serious crisis mode and The Telegram's answer to all of that is a front page story on two resilient goats and a young pup seal nursing . There is an old saying that when times get tough, the tough get going ----- with today's top stories The Telegram is telling us that when times get tough , they resort to cozy animal stories . There is nothing like the warm and fuzzy to take one's mind off how truly bad things are in this province .

  • Rhonda
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    as per wikipedia - Goat meat from younger animals is called kid or cabrito, and from older animals is sometimes called chevon, or in some areas mutton.

  • Billy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    the owner began shooting them in order to salvage the meat, or MUTTON ?

    When did goat meat get promoted to mutton, or is that a local usage?

  • Kevin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Not a lot happens in my old home town, but this is a great story that has been getting some press time for the past few months.

    I have seen these goats regularly on my annual pilgrimage to NL.

    Always a great sight.

  • Goat
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    I'm sure I saw a goat like that in the Southlands area last Christmas?

  • Valerie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    I love these goats! Every morning on my way to work and my return from work I look for them climbing with great agility over the rock face. For me they have a Mascot status. During the winter months they usually go away and I long to see them again as a herald of spring.

  • R
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Seal pups and goats are front page news? Talk about taking the term fluff piece literally. A few days ago it was a giant photo of a man who lost his hockey cards. Yes, hockey cards. I guess The Telegram has finally run out of the Living With (insert disease here), and Social Services Won't Pay for Local Man's (insert item here) filler stories that cater to our irrepressible appetite for the morbid, mediocre and mundane.

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Polly - did you ever think that may John Q Public is tired of reading the same news day in and day out. We already know our healthcare system is a mess - how many different ways do you want it written? A warm and fuzzy story is welcomed from time to time. Not only that, these are the type of articles that help get children interested in newspapers

  • Andy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Slow news day, eh? That's the best you could come up with for today's top story?