A VET said it would be better to cull the mayor of Lynton and Lynmouth than billy goats as some of the area's herd faced death.
The Valley of the Rocks' goats were rounded up last Wednesday to be treated and for some of the billies to be culled.
Fearing an "over-cull", vet Nick Clayton said: "If anyone is to be culled it is to be Mrs Hibbert and not the goats."
The town council had agreed to sacrifice some of the "marauding billies" which have become unpopular with Lynton residents who say they stray into the town to eat their gardens.
But Mr Clayton, who described himself as a vet with an interest in goat welfare, said the problem could be solved by repairing a fence through which the animals make their journey into town.
"I don't wish to observe unnecessary deaths," he said.
"If I see anything that's not in the interests of the goats' welfare I will see it prosecuted."
While the goats were chased down steep hills into a pen, an argument broke out between the mayor and Mr Clayton.
The mayor, Suzette Hibbert, claimed the cull was essential to control numbers. She said: "They rampage through the village devastating gardens."
But Mr Clayton insisted the problem could be solved by mending the fence - a point refuted by town clerk Kevin Harris, who claimed the fence would be broken through regardless of its state of repair.
As volunteers grabbed goats by the horns and passed them down a line to be treated by vets, Mrs Hibbert said: "We have to dispose of some goats.
"We'll decide on how many billies to cull based on how many we've got and the ones which are sick."
The process of treating the goats, which are on a contraceptive programme to control numbers, took longer than usual according to Mr Harris. He said fewer volunteers came to help than usual because they were upset about the cull.
But only eight goats met their end – an outcome Mr Clayton described as "in line with the welfare requirements of the herd".
"A degree of culling is necessary to keep the herd healthy," he admitted.
"Common sense and practicality overcame some rather knee-jerk reactions to goats wandering into town."