Feral goats

Feral goats can quickly destroy all vegetation within their reach, threatening native plants and damaging the forest understorey.

goat1 224Goats were introduced to New Zealand in the early days of European settlement for food, to establish a commercial fiber industry, and for weed control on developing land. The descendants of those that escaped or were deliberately released thrived in the country’s grass hills, forest and scrub land areas.

Today feral goats (Capra hircus) occur on both main islands and a few offshore islands. Feral goats are classifed as wild animals under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977.

New Zealand’s native plants are particularly vulnerable to damage from browsing. Herding browsers such as goats cause two-fold damage by eating native plants and by trampling large areas of vegetation and compactable soils.

Methods of control 


One of the best methods of control for private land owners/occupiers is shooting. Every person shooting must either hold a firearms licence or be under supervision of a person who holds a firearms licence and is over 20 years of age. You should inform your neighbours where and when you intend to shoot. This may be an opportunity to co-ordinate your efforts with neighbours.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has the primary responsibility for goat management under the Wild Animal Control Act. Current government policy is to control goats in areas of highest conservation priority.

Legal requirements 

For a list of legal requirements check out the legal requirements page


The information on this website is intended to provide information about pests and pest management in New Zealand. We've made every effort to make sure that the information set out in this website is accurate. If you have an update to the information listed here please contact us.