Goats start tackling weeds at City park
On Monday, June 20, a herd of approximately 100 goats was introduced to a portion of Confluence (West Nose Creek) Park. For the next few weeks, the herd will dine on invasive weed species, including Canada thistle, as part of a pilot to assess the feasibility of grazing as a tool to manage invasive plant species in parks and natural areas, improving the health of our natural environment. The herd is managed by a professional shepherd, along with trained herding dogs and horses.
“This pilot will help us test goats as a tool to manage invasive weed species in Calgary’s parks,” says Chris Manderson, urban conservation lead for Calgary Parks. “The goats are an environmentally-friendly way that helps us manage weeds in tricky areas, such as along water-ways or on steep slopes, where traditional methods are not appropriate.”
Managing invasive weed species is important to ensure that native vegetation thrives, which in turn encourages healthy wildlife habitat and food sources. By managing the herd while they are on site, many landscape management objectives can be met. Goats provide an alternative to pesticide use, their droppings fertilize the soil, and their hooves work the earth helping to till, aerate and condition the ground.
Although the park will remain open, the public is asked to keep a respectful distance from the herd and their handlers.
“These animals are working animals. For the safety of the public and the animals, we are reminding people to adhere to the bylaw and keep their dogs on-leash, bike slowly through the area, and do not approach or try to pet the goats or herd dogs,” says Manderson.
The park’s fenced off-leash area and the BP BirthPlace Forest are not included in the grazing area and will not be affected.
Once the grazing work is complete, the public will be invited to a Meet and Greet where they can meet the shepherd and pet the animals. To follow the pilot, please visit The City of Calgary Parks Facebook page or visit calgary.ca/goats for more information.