The lone goat at Cape Byron lighthouse. The picture was taken in 2003.
Did Byron pass the buck?
BYRON’ Bay’s elusive ‘Wategoat’ leads a lonely life.
The goat has wandered the cliffs alone on Cape Byron since 2005, when the National Parks and Wildlife Service removed the rest of the herd.
But rumour has it, she (or he) may have found a friend.
According to the Cape Byron Trust’s Facebook page, there have been reports that a male goat may have been released to accompany the cape’s long term resident.
“If anybody can confirm this, or happens to see Romeo could they please let us know as soon as possible,” the post read.
“I assure you that if confirmed he will not be hurt, just relocated. It is actually a serious offence to liberate domestic animals into a conservation reserve.”
The issue has been confused, however, by uncertainty over the of the sex of the resident goat. While the Wategoat has long been referred to as a ‘she’, tour operator Wendy Bithell said she was sure the goat was a male.
Ms Bithell said although the goat was ‘pretty skittish’ she had been less than three or four metres away and seen it from behind, leaving her with no doubt.
Either way, the rumours have reignited strong feelings in former president of Byron Bay’s Save the Goats committee, Paul McCarthy, who has long called for a return of the goats to Cape Byron.
He said the goats were much loved by the community and only removed because they smelt.
“They were a bigger tourist attraction than the lighthouse,” he said.
Mr McCarthy said the goats had also successfully controlled the bitou bush on the Cape, which now had to be aerially sprayed.
“Byron Bay residents now live in fear of an outbreak of disease related to aerial spraying,” he said.
He was not aware of any goat release and said Wategoat must live a ‘terrible lonely life’: “Why not have a couple of goats up at the lighthouse?Is it too much trouble?”
He said her continuing presence at the lighthouse was’ testament to her determination’ and defiance of the ‘might’ of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The lighthouse keeper and the Watego family brought goats about 100 years ago to control weeds.
source: Northern Star
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