Irish Conservation Program Seeking Someone Who’s ‘Goat’ What it Takes to Herd Endangered Species

Scrolling through job listings can be a pain. It can really get your goat. A new job in Ireland will literally get you goats, though.

The Old Irish Goat Society is looking for a full-time goat herder on Howth Head, located in the Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The aim of the job is to help conserve the endangered Old Irish Goat while utilizing their grazing to help reduce wildfire risk.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK/OLD IRISH GOAT SOCIETY

A Facebook post from the group says, “This project builds on over a decade of work to save Ireland’s critically endangered native goat breed from extinction. The volunteer led Old Irish Goat Society, based in Mulranny, Co Mayo, have pioneered a ground breaking breeding program since 2014 to conserve Ireland’s native goat, enable its return to domestication and have established Ireland’s National Herd of Old Irish Goats.”

This project on Howth Head will see 25 of the animals from this herd relocated to help address vegetation that has made the area more fire-prone. Due to gorse, scrub, bracken, and heather vegetation growing too high as regular grazing has fallen off, there have been increasing wildfires in the area in recent decades. In addition to the that, the health of the heathland has been impacted by the unchecked growth.

The hope is that the goats will address this by tackling gorse, creating linear firebreaks to protect homes, increasing structural diversity in the heather, eating invasive seedlings, and reducing bracken cover.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK/OLD IRISH GOAT SOCIETY

The goat herder will be tasked with managing and herding the animals, along with some help from sheepdogs. They’ll also help oversee the country’s first “no-fence” system that uses GPS tracking to keep an eye on the herd. The right person for the job will need to be highly experienced.

Sean Carolan from the OIGS says, “We are looking for someone with herding experience with sheep or goats. The herder will manage the goat herd on Howth, move the goats on a daily basis from site to site and look after the breeding program.”

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This initiative is currently scheduled to take place over three years.

According to the OIGS website, Old Irish Goats first arrived in Ireland about 5,000 years ago and have adapted expertly to the landscape and climate. The males have impressive hair with coiffs, beards, and sideburns. Meanwhile, the more delicate females lead feral herds. Unfortunately, their numbers have dwindled.

The website explains, “The Old Irish Goat is Ireland’s indigenous landrace breed, now critically endangered and only found in remote mountain ranges roaming in feral herds. Interbreeding with imported domestic goats has caused major loss of the original the characteristics and adaptations.”

PHOTO: FACEBOOK/OLD IRISH GOAT SOCIETY

They hope with this new initiative, the cultural and economic importance of the goats will be highlighted. OIGS also wants to advance UNESCO’s goal of having biosphere reserves that preserve genetic diversity within ecosystems by protecting wild animals and traditional lifestyles.

If you can meet the job requirements, the posting can be found here.

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