Goats go for the green
In its latest efforts to manage noxious weeds in Kenna Cartwright Park, the City of Kamloops is going back to nature.
Starting today (July 10), a couple hundred goats will be herded through problem sections of the park by horseback riders and dogs.
For the next eight to 12 days, the goats will be tasked with eating toadflax, knapweed and other problem plants in the park.
Kelly Johnston, the city’s natural-resource section leader, said the goats — supplied by Alberta-based Rocky Ridge Vegetation Control — have been used to successfully manage weeds on forest cutblocks in the Peace River area and in northern Alberta.
While sheep and cows are also used in some places for weed control, Johnston said goats have a natural advantage: Their digestive systems break down weed seeds, so they’re no longer able to germinate when they come out the other end.
They also work cheap.
While it costs the city about $820 per hectare to have the weeds hand-pulled by prisoners (or $5,000A6
were city staff to take up the task), the goats cost $300.
They’re also cheaper than spraying pesticides — $1,000 per hectare — which Johnston said the city would rather not do.
“The goats are working out to be quite economical,” he said.
“The problem is they can only be used in large areas.
“You can imagine trying to squeeze goats into small, little green spaces in behind homes and stuff.”
The city is testing the herd on 33 hectares of land in Kenna Cartwright in part because it’s the largest space available.
But, if they’re successful there, Johnston said the goats could come to smaller parks.
“We want to see how it works and how the public takes it,” he said.
“We want to see how it goes there and work into other areas that aren’t as big, and we’ll see what the comfort level is for people and the operators.”
While the goats will mostly be working in remote areas of the park, Johnston said operators are bringing along a few animals for the public to meet and pet — and are happy to answer questions about their work.
When not out munching, the goats will be penned up in “the back reaches” of the city yard, Johnston said.