Have you seen the goats? While Clarksburg is quickly becoming a booming suburban town, the traces of its rural Montgomery County roots are never far away. Sometimes closer than you might think. It seems a herd of goats has escaped its enclosure somewhere in the UpCounty area near Clarksburg and that herd has been creating issues on various roads throughout the Clarksburg and Damascus area.
It has been an issue that Montgomery County officials have been trying to wrangle for about six weeks, with little progress until a group of local community folks came together to attempt to bring the goat problem to a safe conclusion.
“We are working with members of the community and the Up-County Regional Service Center, who are coordinating with the Farm Bureau and folks from the agricultural community who are trying to help out,” said Tom Koenig, Director of Montgomery County Animal Services.
According to Koenig, the goats escaped from a property in Clarksburg, but their own has not been cooperating in retrieving the animals. “Because they have been out so long, and the owner has been uncooperative about helping us we are going to confiscate these animals,” said Koenig. “A volunteer in the community as stepped forward to take these animals and hold them for us until we can get them placed with a permanent home. Since we don’t have a place to keep the goats.”
“The owner has been issued several citations in connection with the goats getting loose. We are trying to hold him accountable. For now, we are focusing on getting the goats safe and whatever charges or citations that follow will come at that time,” said Koenig.
In the meantime, the goats remain at large. “We’ve had several reports of the goats being in downtown Damascus. We probably get three of four sightings per day, but by the time we get there they goats are gone,” said Koenig.
While two goats were captured last Wednesday in Damascus, the majority of the herd remain unaccounted for. “We are not exactly sure how many goats are loose,” said Michelle Corp, of Damascus. Corp. She is the vice president of the Farm Bureau and serves as Superintendent of Goats at the annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair and has volunteered to help coordinate the roundup of the goats.
“We think there are somewhere between 10 and 14. We think they have broken up into two or three groups. One group had three goats in it, and we captured two of them up in Damascus, and the third member of that group remains out there,” she said.
“We think there are two more subsets of what was once one large group,” said Crop. “One group has five or six goats, and the other has two or three.”
While the goats are not dangerous, they are not safe either. They don’t understand traffic and can easily be hit by vehicles. “These are not pet goats,” said Crop. “They were truly livestock. They are not people friendly. They don’t appear to have been handled a lot, and many of them have horns and are quite skittish and we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Last Thursday, a group of volunteers including Crop, got together in the driving rain to set up a sort of open-ended corral in an attempt to capture the goats in an area where they have been spotted consistently. The group placed a trailer with a roof, along with some plastic fencing and some livestock fences in a field near the corner of Stringtown Road and N. Frederick Road in Clarksburg.
According to Koenig, the goats have been seen pretty consistently in a small field across from the retail stores on Stringtown Road. He said that there have been half-dozen sightings at that property.
“What we’ve done is set up a catch area,” explained Crop. “We have placed a trailer with a bit of sweet grain in it, and a bit of fencing around it so the goats will become comfortable with going into an enclosed area, and hopefully be attracted to the grain.”
She cautioned that the goats might not be interested in the grain. “There is so much food for them to eat in the area, between the vines, the trees, and the grasses. This is a goat paradise. It is a very food rich environment. We are not sure that they will be attracted to grain or that they have any familiarity with grain. We are just trying to catch them so that nobody gets hurt — no goats, no people. We want everybody will be safe,” said Crop.
If someone sees the goats, they should call Animal Services at 301-279-8000. Please be sure to leave your contact information so an Animal Services Officer can contact you. “I would not recommend the public attempt catching the goats,” said Crop. “While they are not wild animals, these goats are not tame. They are livestock, and they have horns. We don’t want anyone or any goats to get hurt.”
Top: A herd of goats escaped from its pen on a Clarksburg farm six weeks ago, and have been roaming around the Up County area. File Photo of goats courtesy Montgomery County Animal Services
Next: The goat corral at the corner of Stringtown Road and MD Rt. 355 is an attempt to get the goats used to being in an enclosed area where they can eventually be captured.
Next: Community volunteers create the goat corral in an attempt to capture the goats who are roaming around Clarksburg and Damascus.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.