Goats At Work: Reducing Invasive Species for Ottawa County Parks

Posted at 6:10 PM, May 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-30 18:10:14-04

EASTMANVILLE, Mich., (May 30, 2014) The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department has deployed a secret weapon in the fight against invasive plant species; goats.

The department announced Friday that the herd of goats has been dispatched to the Eastmanville Bayou.

The goats are expected to gobble up “woody, shrub-like invasive plants,”.  The county says repeat “applications” of the goats eliminates up to 90% of invasive plants over three years. The goats can get to places that mower machines cant get to in addition to the obvious benefit of eliminating the use of herbicides.

Among the invaders are bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, Oriental bittersweet, poison ivy and buck thorn. The goats physical make up allows them to eat things most animals cant.

Two other parks are scheduled for goat treatment: Bur Oak and Riverside Park.

While the county welcomes visitors, they do advise no one to touch the goats. Some of the oils from the plants, like poison ivy, while not harmful for the goats can be transferred to humans.

The cost of the project, about $5,500 has been been paid for by gifts, including a donation from the Friends of the Ottawa County Parks. The goats are also just on loan, having been donated by Parks and County Commissioner Phillip Kuyers.

There is a volunteer program, for more information on that: