County parks seek help of goat herd

The Ottawa County Parks Department has proposed a pilot program to have goats munch on invasive species.
Alex Doty
Apr 10, 2014

“I have been following this for years from a natural land management perspective,” County Parks Natural Resources Coordinator Melanie Manion said. “When I saw what a strong agriculture community we had, I said it was a win-win.”

Parks officials plan to start the goat initiative in May, and expect the program to last several months.

“It’s still a bit of a novelty,” Manion said. “There’s no one in Michigan that is doing this. We’re doing this project to see the pros and cons with it.”

Goats will be used at three county properties: Bur Oak, Eastmanville Bayou and Riverside parks.

“Goats are actually healthier when they eat woody material versus being grain-fed,” Manion explained. “We expect that it will take about two months to treat three different sites.”

The sites were selected based on two main characteristics: a high density of invasive species, and a low-quality site with low biodiversity.

“We’re very fortunate that most of our sites are high quality,” Manion said. “(But), if the biodiversity is low and the number of invasives is high, that site is one we’d put a goat on.”

One advantage is that there are large swaths of poison ivy at the selected sites — something goats like to eat, Manion said.

“This is a cost-effective way of doing this so that we don’t create new infestations,” Manion said.

To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

Wolverine49457

I love the idea! There was a story years ago that Pig Island used to be called Snake Island...a good story but I'm not sure it's true....now if we could just get cats to crave asian and grass carp and teach them to dive!

1bigreddog

Sounds good as long as it doesn't harm the goats !

Wolverine49457

We had goats and when we let them free range they ate nearly anything and from what I understand not many things will make them sick. The guy we bought them from said other than mold in their food they will decide and avoid things toxic to them. They love to be up high and will not cross a void over a narrow bridge or plank unless you go first so they are not stupid animals…just a little smelly.

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