Four Legged Partners Helping with Invasive Species
The goats are back! The City of Madison Parks Division is once again conducting prescribed grazing to manage invasive species and promote the establishment of native vegetation.
The goats will be in five parks this summer, confined to specific targeted areas, to manage and suppress invasive vegetation. Grazing is an important management tool for natural areas, and a key component of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. Advantages to grazing include reducing the need for chemical control methods, minimizing erosion risks, and improved access to difficult terrain. They are not only adorable but they also help to address the City’s green and resilient goals.
Goats are great partners because they eat the invasive species that we need to get rid of, like buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard. I was surprised to learn that they graze from 12-16 hours per day and can eat up to 8 lbs. of plant material during that time! Parks staff also make sure they have plenty of water and minerals needed to maintain a healthy diet.
The Parks Division does not own the goats - they belong to a local farmer who ‘hires them out’ for land management over the summer. They spend their winters back at the farm.
I was fortunate to see the goats at Turville Point Conservation Park, but they will also be working at Acewood, Knollwood and Owen Conservation Park as well as at Greenside Park.