Feral goats (Capra hircus) were studied in the Mahoenui giant weta reserve, southern King Country, New Zealand, from March 1992 to February 1993. The reserve supports the main population of the undescribed Mahoenui giant weta (Deinacrida sp.). Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is the dominant woody browse plant in the reserve and provides protection, shelter and food for weta. The activities, foraging behaviour and diet of feral goats within the reserve were measured by direct observation and analysis of rumen contents.
The diets of feral pigs and feral goats shot on the main Auckland Island in 1989 are described from analyses of stomach and rumen contents. Feral goats ate at least 50 species of plants, but only three, Metrosideros umbellata, Chionochloa antarctica, and Durvillea antarctica made up over 50% by dried weight of the food eaten. Feral pigs ate a mixed plant and animal diet, of which plants made up 61% of the diet, with the megaherb Anisotome antipoda being the largest dietary item at 38% by dried weight.
The preferences of a captive herd of goats with feral ancestry were evaluated for 11 artificial pest control baits and commercial stock feed pellets. A commercial stock food pellet (based on barley, bran, and oats) was the most preferred basic bait. A mixture of 2% diced Griselinia littoralis (broadleaf) leaves (a preferred natural food plant) and 2% molasses (per weight of basic bait) increased palatability of this basic bait. The best lured bait was aerially sown at I kg ha(-1) in a 380 ha area with about 50 feral goats.
Hourly kill-rates and encounter-rates for hunters of feral goats (Capra hircus) provided linear indices of goat population size in a 638 ha area of forest and grasslands in Marlborough. The goat population of about 108 animals was reduced to near zero in 105 hours of hunting effort on 11 days at a cost of about $8.20 ha-1. However, goats from the surrounding areas soon recolonised the study area as 19 were shot in 21 hr and 14 in 24 hr 10 and 13 months after the study, respectively.
Feral goats (Capra hircus) have been hunted intensively every year since 1972 on the 2950 ha Raoul Island to protect the indigenous vegetation. Rumen samples taken from 103 goats shot in 1982-83 showed that a minimum of 48 species of vascular plants, mostly indigenous species, were eaten. Only seven foods—Metrosideros kermadecensis, Coriaria arborea var. kermadecensis, Me/icytus ramiflorus spp. ramiflorus, Rhopalostylis baueri var.
Goats were liberated on Raoul Island early in the 19th century. Attempts to eliminate the goats commenced in 1937 and have accounted for at least 15 000 animals. Since 1972, when annual hunting expeditions began, both the number of goats and the area over which they range have steadily declined and the herd is now almost extinct. Despite these changes, the mean group size of goats in 1981-83 remained the same at 3.19, 2.74 and 3.24 respectively. On average, 19% of goats escaped each encounter with the hunters.