Hennepin County Using Goats to Battle Buckthorn
Hennepin County continues to wage a war against an invasive species. This week, they are trying to eradicate buckthorn near the public works facility. The new weapon they are using, might surprise you–it’s goats.
You’ve probably seen a goat video or two on the internet. While their antics are pretty cute, Hennepin County is using these hungry hooved animals to tackle some big issues.
“The goats were brought in to control the buckthorn,” says David Thill, a natural resource specialist for Hennepin Count.
Buckthorn is an invasive species that has spread throughout wooded areas across the country. It crowds out native plants and makes it harder for them to thrive.
“We did some cut and treat of the buckthorn, but then they re-sprout,” says Thill. “Rather than coming in and spraying a lot of chemicals around and destroying the natural vegetation, we are using the goats. They eat up the buckthorn and seem to love it.
Goats can Navigate Rough Terrain
Why hire a goat to do a job that could be done by a man?
Goat Dispatch, the company that provides the goats, say in some cases goats just do a better job.
“Usually we go into ravines or big bluffs and stuff like that,” says Jarett Spitzack of Goat Dispatch. “It’s hard to walk and maneuver over that terrain. Especially with big equipment. Putting that kind of man power in those areas would take too long, or could be dangerous in some areas. It’s a lot easier to fence in an area and let the goats have at it and maneuver all those areas where humans might not be able to.”
The goats are also ecofriendly too.
“The goats are a fairly inexpensive way to control the Buckthorn,” added Thill. “It’s also more environmentally friendly. We aren’t using chemicals, which can hurt native species.”
The goats will be at the Hennepin County Medina facility for a few more weeks. The county will see how good of a job the animals did clearing out the buckthorn and may have them come to other part of the county in the future. To learn more about Goat Dispatch visit their website.