Judas Goats and Other Memories of the Galapagos

The Galapagos had a feral goat problem so the powers that be hunted them down and killed them. They used a tactic called the “Judas Goat,” where they captured a goat, fitted it with a radio collar, and released it back into the wild. The Judas Goat would return to the herd and scientists and hunters would track it by helicopter and gun them all down. They were conducting this on the islands of Isabela and Santiago during our trip there to chase striped marlin.

We stopped at a spot the goats might be. There was a path marked by a goat skull nailed to a post. The last Judas here must have done his job; live goats were nowhere to be found.

The bays had lava rocks jutting out along a few crescents. The rocks held fish that had never seen a lure or fly. Whatever they took to be prey had always heretofore been that; they had no reason to be wary or conditioned. We had Internationals on stand up rods and fourteen weights for the marlin; total overkill here. But we also had a few light spinning rigs and plugs belowdecks.

The Judas Buckhead.

The first fish, a buckhead parrotfish, came rocketing to the surface after the plug, we could see it slashing uninhibited all the way. The Judas Fish, we joked. If it hadn’t done it we may have given up and moved on.

The scientists declared victory over the goats a few years later, in 2009. It had to be done. When people put animals where they’re not supposed to be, they just keep doing what they do even to their own detriment.

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