MOUND KEY, Fla. –
This is an interesting story from late August that we overlooked. On the surface it may just seem like another small town argument between a goat person and a commissioner, but it’s actually more than that.
Mound Key is a 125 acre island in Estero Bay off southwestern Florida. 116 of those acres are owned by the state as an archaeological state park because the land was a ceremonial center for the prehistoric Calusa Indians. The other 9 acreas are owned by the McGee family who have goats.
The reason this is a story is because the McGees would like to build a boat dock that would allow direct access to their property; they currently have to travel half a mile through the park to reach their land. A private boat dock would make it possible for them to bring more goats to the island.
Commissioner Ray Judah doesn’t want more goats on the island. He believes they are destroying the natural resources on the McGee’s 9 acres and fears that if the goats escape from their property, they will destroy the park. While the McGee’s were issued a permit to build their dock, Judah wants the Lee County Commission to ban the importation of any more goats to the island.
So the issue is this: risk damage to the park if the goats escape or limit the rights of an individual to do what he will with his agricultural property by preventing the McGee’s getting more goats. Does the local commission have the right to tell these people that they can’t increase their herd? The McGee’s haven’t had any goats escape to threaten the park but the potential is always there. How do you weigh historic value against individual rights?