An infamous herd of goats which has “terrorised” two villages is to be brought under control – with the pill.
The feral animals have spent years munching on flowerbeds and lawns in gardens, cricket pitches and churchyards in Lynton and Lynmouth in Devon.
They are a regular sight roaming the Valley Of The Rocks and the first mention of the troublesome goats came in the Doomsday Book in 1086 – almost 1,000 years ago.
Local villagers have spent years battling the animals and trying to bring them under control with various methods.
They installed a £40,000 goat-proof cattle grid – only to find the herd could tip-toe across it – and there have been a number of culls using council marksmen.
Several years police also launched an investigation after someone tried to kill the goats using poison stuffed in a green pepper.
Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council is now raising £12,000 to inject the 70-strong herd’s female population with a special contraceptive jab.
Officials say the jab will stop the animals reproducing for three years helping them to limit numbers and avoid the unpopular prospect of a mass cull.
Kevin Harris, Lynton Town Council clerk, said: “About 70 to 80 per cent of the female goats will be vaccinated and they will be reviewed over the next two years to assess the impact on herd management.
“We will still have kids coming through but hopefully they will be matched by the old-aged and the sick dying.”
The Exmoor goats have long inhabited a 300-acre site of special scientific interest known as the Valley of Rocks.
According to the Domesday Book there were 75 goats at the Manor of Lyntonia back in 1086.
The animals were removed from the valley in the 19th century and replaced by white goats from the Royal Herd at Sandringham but the new breed perished in the 1960s.
Their replacements, three feral goats from the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland, were introduced to the area in 1976 and have thrived.
But as their numbers swelled to 150 so did the complaints from locals who accused the mischievous animals of tearing up the village.
Lynton Town Council has asked villagers to raise the £10,000 to £12,000 needed to inject around 30 female goats.
Mr Harris said: “The negative effects of more goats are felt by the community. We know what troubles there were when the herd was uncontrolled.
”We are aiming to be more humane in terms of animal rights, but we need people to demonstrate their compassion for animals by donating funds.”
Elizabeth Rodway, a councillor who owns the grazing rights to the Valley of Rocks, added: “It would be absolutely brilliant if we could get the contraception.
“All the welfare people are very keen because it is not good culling healthy animals. We are not just taking the easy option.”