The World's Worst Invasive Mammals
Animals as common as goats, deer, rabbits or mice can have a devastating effect on other wildlife
- By Jess Righthand
- Smithsonian.com, December 20, 2010
Feral goat (© David Chapman / Alamy)
Ever since farmers in the mountains of western Iran domesticated the goat (Capra hircus) more than 10,000 years ago, populations have spread and thrived all over the world. Goats travel mostly in herds that can cover areas up to 12 miles across. Notoriously tough, they can survive in the harshest of environments, from isolated islands to steep mountain faces.
These scruffy herbivores will eat any plant they find; their four-chambered stomachs can digest almost any tough plant matter. Their eating habits can alter the composition of vegetation and quash biodiversity, particularly on isolated islands that have a delicate ecological balance. In recent years, aerial hunting, hunting dogs and GPS technology have been used to effectively control goat populations. But as domestic goats are the most widely consumed meat and milk source in the world, feral goats (which are domestic goats that become established in the wild) aren’t likely to disappear anytime soon.