Professional hunters hired by the Navy will begin shooting wild goats on San Clemente Island on March 7 unless orders to the contrary are received within a few days from the chief of naval operations.
Ken Mitchell, spokesman for the Navy, said that so far "there is nothing to prevent us" from going ahead with the shooting program, which had been planned for early in January. It was delayed by Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger at the urging of an animal rights group, Fund for Animals, which asked for a chance to capture as many of the animals as possible and bring them to the mainland to be offered for adoption.
March 4 Deadline
The group was given until March 4 to round up the goats, and by late Friday 627 had been netted, according to Paula Van Orden, Fund for Animals spokeswoman. The total goat population on the island has been estimated at between 1,200 and 1,500.
Earlier this month, more than 400 were taken by barge to the Naval Air Station docks at Coronado and transported to several sanctuaries in Southern California, where numbers of them have been adopted.
The rapid breeding of the goats, along with their voracious eating, has caused the Navy to try for several years to wipe them out. The Navy claims that they are destroying the habitats of several plants and animals that appear on the federal endangered species list and are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1972.