RENEWED calls have been made for protected status for Waterford’s famous Bilberry goat herd, following the publication of a DNA report on Irish goat breeds.
Members of the Bilberry Goats Heritage Trust are calling for protected status for the herd and have expressed concerns over the future of the goats in Waterford.
“They are a unique herd and they need to be protected,” said a member of the Bilberry Goats Heritage Trust.
As reported in The Munster Express last year, concerns have been expressed over alleged attempts to privatise the Bilberry Goat Herd.
The famous goats have been looked after by the Bilberry Goat Heritage Trust for many years on their habitat in Bilberry.
The Trust, which is against the possession of the herd for commercial use, claims that the herd now faces extinction unless protected status is obtained.
They are being supported by Cllr John Hearne (SF) who has already called on Waterford City & County Council to seek protected status for the goats.
“Everyone in Waterford would love to see protected status for the Bilberry goats,” said Cllr Hearne who is Chairman of the Environment SPC.
“If we found a fossil we would put it on display and use it to attract visitors. But these goats are part of our living heritage so they need to be promoted and protected.”
Cllr Hearne highlighted the association between the Manx cat and the Isle of Man.
Members of the Trust say that an extensive report on Ireland’s goat breeds, which was recently completed by Weatherbys Ireland and a student from University College Dublin (UCD), backs up their calls for protected status.
The DNA Research Report was funded by the Department of Agriculture.
“The report further highlights that the Bilberry Goat Herd is unique,” said a member of the Trust.
The Bilberry herd almost vanished in 2000 due to a number of factors including poaching, theft and neglect.
The goats, from the Landrace breed, are said to be descendants of animals which arrived in Waterford in the 1700s – possibly on board trading ships or with the Huguenots who were fleeing France.
The Bilberry area contains unique minerals which helps sustain the herd.
A protest was held last winter by members of the Bilberry Goats Heritage Trust along with their supporters to highlight the current situation and the need to protect the goats.
Members of the Trust aim to continue their efforts to seek protected status for the famous herd.
“The Trust need protection status for the Bilberry goats for the people of Waterford and for generations to come,” said a spokesperson.