There’s a new pilot project on right now in one city park that will help combat noxious weeds. A herd of 170 goats is being introduced to Rundle Park between July and September and they have been specially trained to munch on Canada thistle, leafy spurge, common tansy, common burdock, yellow toadflax as well as the occasional dandelion.
This pilot project comes after the city voted in 2015 to reduce it’s use of herbicides. Goats are known for their iron stomachs. They are able to consume plants that may be toxic to other animals due to special stomach enzymes. The plan is to have the goats consume the weeds before they go to seed, with less chance of future germination after the seeds pass through the goat’s digestive track.
Rundle Park is a wonderful place to explore on it’s own – full of nature trails and recreational activities. If you’re out exploring this area, be sure to check to see if the goats are at work. I stopped by for a visit on Saturday, parking in the parking lot adjacent to the tennis courts and taking the trail in front to the left. The goat enclosure was set up to the north of the pedestrian bridge connecting to Strathcona Science Park. When I first viewed them, they were in the tall grass just off the paved path once I passed the bridge. Since it was a hot afternoon, they were being herded down to the wooded area for some shade. I took the dirt path pointing to Hermitage Park that goes under the bridge and viewed them through the trees, hopping over rocks and munching on tree leaves.
The goats (and herding dogs) have a job to do, so it’s best to view them from a distance. Also, there is an electric fence to keep the goats from roaming, so watch young children when you’re in the area. Do not feed the animals and keep dogs on leash in the area. For more information on the goats and viewing them, visit the City of Edmonton website.
The goats are only here for a short stay this time, until Wednesday July 19 (according to YEG Parks), but they will return mid August and mid September. There will also be public meet and greet events planned for August and September, so be sure to follow YEG Parks for up to date goat information and FAQs.