The goats at La Victoria. | R.F.


The mountainous area of La Victoria in Alcudia is the largest public estate in the Balearics in which hunting for big game is practised. This hunting reserve was established in 2008 and the game in question is the "boc balear", the Balearic mountain goat.

There is strict management of the goat population in La Victoria, with weekly hunts meaning that there is not an issue of overpopulation. This is in contrast to some other parts of the islands, notably Es Vedra in Ibiza, where a great deal of controversy was aroused by a recent cull of its goats.

Despite this management, the goats can cause a bit of a problem where cars are concerned. The goats, hunting themselves for mulberries, use the cars to allow them to get to the mulberries that grow in abundance near to the hermitage in La Victoria. Tourist hire cars are said to be particularly susceptible to a spot of damage caused by the hungry goats.

The hunters' society and the town hall in Alcudia are looking at ways of impeding the access that goats currently have to more "vulnerable" parts of the estate. Whatever arrangement that is to be put in place will, however, have to take into account that La Victoria is a place of pilgrimage for the people of Alcudia and so any system of access will need to allow horses and carts to move freely.

Pruning the mulberry trees has not proved to be enough for an estate of 1,000 hectares with La Victoria and its hermitage right in the middle of it. Controlling the movement of animals in this vast area is somewhat complicated and made especially so because the mulberry trees, in addition to being highly attractive to the goats, are also sought after by tourists because they offer shade.

Over the past eight years the hunters' society has made efforts to create a proper perimeter for the estate, but the issue of the goats and the mulberries is an outstanding matter. The local chief of police, Abelardo Mesías, says that there are typically three to four complaints each year which are referred to the hunters' society as it has insurance liability. He notes that La Victoria attracts a great number of tourists whose cars, parked in the shade, are marked by goats climbing all over them. This is a particular issue at the height of summer.

According to the most recent census, there are 180 Balearic goats. The figure, it is said, is the result of an overall plan that has sought to recover the purity of this native breed.