San Clemente Island is located off the coast of southern California. It is owned by the U.S. government and used and managed by the U.S. Navy. Feral goats, probably of Spanish orgin, have inhabited the island for several centuries, possibly since the 1500's. Later introductions may have come from the mainland Franciscan missions during the 1600-1700's, while farmers were responsible for later introductions.
The U.S. Navy became responsible for the island in 1934. Hunting and trapping were allowed, but in 1972, when a survey concluded that there were 11,000 goats on the island, a systematic removal program was begun. By 1980 an estimated 4,000 goats still remained on the island.
The Navy then proposed a shooting program to be conducted from helicopters, but was blocked in court by an animal welfare group, the Fund for Animals. This group used helicopters and nets to capture the goats, then took them off the island and found homes for htem across the country. Practically all the goats were removed from the island in this manner.
San Clemente goats are relatively small, close to the maximum standard for dwarf breeds. They are a meat breed, though uncommonly fine-boned and deer-like. They are horned in both sexes. Although the island population once exhibited a wide range of colors and color markings, the goats are now mostly red or tan with black markings.
Status: RARE. A small number have been registered with the International Dairy Goat Registry.
American Livestock Breeds Notebook. 1989. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Pittsboro, NC.
Truman N. and Sheryl A. Bernal, Earth Spirit Preserve, Cedar Ridge, California