Grazing Goats Eradicate Invasive Plants

What’s the “greenest” way to eliminate invasive plants? Let goats do the work.

Eco-Goats made their Montgomery County debut in July 2011. The Izaak Walton League partnered with the City of Gaithersburg, Environmental Services Division, in a new project to improve wildlife habitat without damaging local water quality.

The League’s 33-acre property is home to deer, fox, beavers, turtles, and a variety of other animals and birds. Much of this property has been overrun with invasive plants, including Japanese honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard, Autumn Olive, and Oriental Bittersweet. These plants provide no value as food or shelter for wildlife. Instead, they crowd out and kill trees, shrubs, and other plants these animals need to survive.

Eliminating invasive plants – permanently – improves wildlife habitat as well as human habitat. But traditional methods of doing this over large areas often involves repeated application of chemicals that could leach into our waterways. EcoGoats are fighting nature with nature.

The Eco-Goats company brings a herd of goats to large properties infested with invasive species. The goats are contained within an electric fence to tackle invasive plants one acre at a time. Goats eat the invasive plants down to the ground, and goat handlers either dig up stumps or kill them with very targeted use of an herbicide. Agencies in St. Mary’s City and Anne Arundel County and the Maryland State Highway Administration have already used this process successfully.

See the goats in action on this video, shot here at the League's headquarters:

For more information about the project, read the "Targeted Grazing To Control Invasive Species" fact sheet (PDF link).

For more information about invasive species, visit the Department of Agriculture's National Invasive Species Information Center or the National Invasive Species Council Web site.

 

 
 
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