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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will begin thinning out wild goats on four uninhabited small islands in the Ogasawara chain, about 1,000 km south of Tokyo, to preserve vegetation, coral and bird life, officials said June 23.

Some 1,240 goats living on Nakodo, Muko, Nishi and Yome islands are causing damage to the previously verdant land. Erosion is resulting in red soil that then flows into the water, destroying rich coral around the tropical islands, the officials said.

Nakodo and Muko in particular are seeing damage. One-third of Nakodo’s total 1.58 sq. km has turned into red soil and rock because of the goats, according to Wako Hiraishi, an official at the metro government’s Ogasawara office on Chichijima Island. The government plans to kill or capture the entire population of about 1,000 goats on the two islands within three to four years.

Captured goats will be sent to Kyushu and Okinawa, the only areas in Japan where residents customarily eat goat meat, the officials said. The first step beginning July 10 will involve rounding up some 120 goats on Nakodo Island into cages, the officials said.

The government will then place sandbags and plant tree saplings to prevent erosion into the sea next March, the officials said. Masaru Yumoto, a metropolitan official in Shinjuku Ward, said the project has the support of the Environment Agency and other leading environmental protection groups.

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