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‘We’ll protect Cromer’s cliff goats from dangerous caterpillars’

PUBLISHED: 11:33 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:36 02 May 2018

Goats are released on Melbourne slope in Cromer to help with keeping the slope vegetation clear. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Goats are released on Melbourne slope in Cromer to help with keeping the slope vegetation clear. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2016

A pledge has been made to protect Cromer’s much-loved goats from a dangerous species of caterpillar that has triggered a public health warning.

Brown-tail moth caterpillar. Photo: Wiki/Noushka31Brown-tail moth caterpillar. Photo: Wiki/Noushka31

North Norfolk residents have been warned to avoid brown-tail moth caterpillars, which are currently nesting along the coast, as well as in communities including Cromer and Bacton.

The larvae are more commonly found on hawthorn and blackthorn bushes, as well as plums and cherry trees, as well as on roses and blackberry plants.

The caterpillars’ hairs can break off as barbs, causing rashes, skin irritation, headaches and sometimes breathing difficulties.

North Norfolk District Council is advising people to avoid contact with the larvae.

Brown tail moth. Photo: Wiki/Donald HobernBrown tail moth. Photo: Wiki/Donald Hobern

If there is any accidental contact, members of the public are advised to wash their hands in soapy water and clean their eyes with eyewash, and to seek medical advice if the symptoms are severe or persistent.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, the larvae will grow into brown tail moths and leave between June and July.

The council has also assured members of the public that Cromer’s beloved goats will not come into contact with the larvae.

The goats live on Melbourne Slope overlooking the sea in the summer months, and help manage the vegetation and litter on the hill.

The caterpillars are nesting in Cromer and Bacton. Picture: NNDCThe caterpillars are nesting in Cromer and Bacton. Picture: NNDC

A spokesman for the council said: “The welfare of the goats is a priority across a range of matters including shade, access to water, access to suitable food and requests to the public not to feed them.

“While the goats won’t specifically eat the caterpillars, we are able to minimise potential contact between the two because the fencing is set up as two separate sections on the cliff area.

“When it comes to releasing the goats, if necessary we will release them into the half of the cliff area where there are minimal caterpillars, which is the eastern end of the fenced area.

“We will then assess the other area and if we feel happy open up the full extent for the goats as and when appropriate.”

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