Goats and Soda: NPR
screenshot by NPR via u/kevin1760/Reddit
As the editor of a blog called “Goats and Soda” (see our name origin story here), I’m always interested when goats are in the news. Also, I’m a Capricorn.
So naturally, I was curious about the four or five goats seen scurrying through the streets of San Francisco last week. They made national news via videos viewed by several thousand people on social media.
Where do goats come from? One theory: They escaped from a herd hired to eat weeds in city parks. Another theory: they escaped on their way to the slaughterhouse. This seems to have more credence due to the type of goat spotted in San Fran – “a breed…generally used for meat,” according to sfgate.com.
Free-roaming urban goats raise concerns and questions for me. Mainly: is a city an acceptable place for goats?
For information, I turned to goat specialist Alan McElligott, associate professor of animal behavior and welfare at City University of Hong Kong, who answered questions via email.
So, first of all, goats don’t necessarily need to stick to one pasture, do they?
Goats prefer to graze rather than graze. (Editor’s note: And that’s why they do such a great job clearing out unwanted vegetation, including…poison ivy. They like to roam and eat rather than stay in one place.)
And in theory, they can search for food in a city…
I have seen reports of small herds of goats being used to eat vegetation in city parks in the United States.
What do you think of San Francisco goats?
The goats just looked really scared. They must have been released by humans – somehow (intentionally or not). Goats are really good at escaping from enclosures (or maybe even a transport vehicle).
Would it be easy to catch them?
Goats are very food-motivated, so maybe they could be lured into a pen that way. But it’s difficult if they run and are scared.
Is it unusual to have goats wandering around a city unguarded?
Urban goats – to my knowledge – are very, very rare. I don’t know any really urban goats. Those in Llandudno, Wales mostly live outside the city.
Goats don’t normally roam towns and villages, but it does happen in a few places. This can be very risky for goats, for example traffic accidents. Conflict (with humans) can occur if they go to private gardens to eat flowers or vegetables.
In conclusion, goats are not city critters…
Free-roaming goats don’t belong in a town or city – really not a suitable place for them. They will be frightened and stressed by noise and unfamiliar humans.