Goats are an issue all over the Balearics. | Rella Stjepanovic


There has been much heated debate about culls - proposed and carried out - of wild goats in parts of the Tramuntana mountain range, and a report from the regional environment ministry may serve as another factor in this debate.

The report concentrates on the loss of yew plants in the Tramuntana. The ministry describes this loss as "very worrying" and identifies two areas - Massanella and Mola de Planícia - as examples of the loss of plants: respectively to 61 from 103 and to 119 from 145 that were catalogued ten years ago. The report does point to areas where there has been an increase, such as the Puig Galileu, but this is put down to there having been a more thorough study of trees and plants than there was in 2007.

The ministry is satisfied that wild goats are the most important factor in the loss of plants, with this loss confined to areas accessible to the animals. The report's findings are, however, somewhat curious - a fact that the ministry recognises - given that the yew is toxic. It is suggested that goats have some form of defence or that individual goats ingest only so much in order not to suffer any adverse effect.

More than 15% of plants have lost over half their crowns because of goats, while some five per cent have been killed off.

Majorcan yews are small shrubs, and where they have been protected against goats, they are recovering their crowns. Some five hundred have been planted by the ministry in protected areas and are growing satisfactorily.