This Tiny Italian Island Is Giving Away Goats to Anyone Who Can Catch Them

An estimated 600 of the hoofed intruders are wreaking havoc on the two-square-mile island of Alicudi

Goat eating a piece of grass
The island's goat population used to be around 100, but it recently ballooned to 600. Pixabay

Goats are taking over a small Italian island—and local officials are offering them up for free to anyone who can catch them.

The hoofed intruders are located on Alicudi, a volcanic island off the northern coast of Sicily that’s part of the Aeolian chain. It’s tiny, spanning roughly two square miles, and has approximately 100 human inhabitants.

The goat problem dates back about 20 years, when a farmer released some of the animals onto the island, as CNN’s Barbie Latza Nadeau and Amarachi Orie report. Usually, roughly 100 goats roam around Alicudi at any given time. But this year, their population has skyrocketed.

“Six hundred goats have been counted,” Riccardo Gullo, Alicudi’s mayor, tells Sky News’ Claire Gilbody Dickerson. “The island is really small, so [that’s] really too many.”

The animals are beginning to cause problems for the local community. While they once kept to themselves on the island’s steep cliffs, they have started wandering into people’s yards and gardens—and sometimes even into their homes.

“We absolutely do not want to even consider culling the animals, so we are encouraging the idea of giving them away,” Gullo tells the Guardian’s Angela Giuffrida. “Anyone can make a request for a goat—it doesn’t have to be a farmer—and there are no restrictions on numbers.”

He adds, “If someone has the capacity to domesticate a goat, it could be a beautiful and more humane way to control the issue.”

Beautiful view of volcanic island with sea in the distance
Alicudi is part of the Aeolian Islands, also known as the "seven sisters." Domenico Piccione / REDA&CO / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Anyone can file a request with the adopt-a-goat program free of charge—as long as they can catch the goats and get access to a boat that can transport them elsewhere.

Interested parties need to mail in an official request by April 10 (though the deadline will likely be extended until the majority of the goats have been adopted) and pay a €16 (around $17) stamp fee. Once approved, they’ll have 15 days to snag the goats and take them away.

Authorities have heard from dozens of prospective goat owners. Per Sky News, the requests have come from as far as Tuscany in central Italy and Lombardy in northern Italy. One farmer from Vulcano, a nearby island, has expressed interest in some of the goats for his cheese-making operation.

Some of the goats will be kept on the island for tourism, as the charismatic creatures make great photo opportunities for visitors. Alicudi—which is about a two- or three-hour boat ride from mainland Sicily—has no hotels and just one bar, but its rustic charm still appeals to some travelers. To get around, visitors must walk or use donkeys and mules.

Alicudi is one of the seven primary Aeolian islands, and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.