Breed Profile: San Clemente Island Goats (Video)

San Clemente Island goats are graceful, slim goats often raised as dairy goats. They were introduced to San Clemente Island in 1875; culled in the 1970s, only a few hundred remain in the breeding population.

Courtesy The Livestock Conservancy

Goats were first introduced to San Clemente Island, off the coast of southern California, in 1875, where they were left to populate until 1972, when a survey concluded that there were 15,000 goats on the island and that they represented a nuisance to native plants and wildlife. A systematic removal program was begun by the U.S. Navy, which was responsible for the island, and by 1980 there were an estimated 4,000 goats remaining. A proposal to continue the cull by shooting from helicopters was blocked by the animal welfare group Fund for Animals, and 3,000 goats were removed from the island to be returned to domestication. Most of those goats were sold with the agreement that they would not be bred, although some went directly to individuals and farms to be bred.

San Clemente Island goats are slightly larger than dwarf breeds. They are uncommonly fine-boned and deer-like, and most have very gentle temperaments and excellent mothering abilities. They are typically red or tan with characteristic black markings, although the island population once exhibited a wide range of colors and markings which can occasionally be seen today. Both sexes have large horns that resemble those of Spanish goats, but DNA testing has confirmed that the San Clemente Island goats are genetically distinct from other goat breeds.

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