The City of Calgary is hoping a gaggle of goats can help control weeds in the city’s green spaces.
The goat grazing pilot project, announced in April, will see a herd of 100 goats dispatched to two Calgary parks this summer – along with a professional shepherd and a group of herding dogs and horses.
The animals will be introduced to Confluence (West Nose Creek) Park – and possibly a second location in a nearby green space – just as weeds like Canada Thistle start to flower.
The city said one herd of goats will arrive at Confluence Park starting June 21 for two to three weeks.
Data from the pilot program will be collected and analyzed to determine how effective the animals are at controlling the weeds.
“We know that grazing has the potential to offer several benefits for managing landscapes in Calgary,” Urban Conservation lead for Calgary Parks Chris Manderson said in a news release.
“Targeted grazing for weeds is environmentally friendly and sustainable, and there’s evidence from other cities that indicates that it can also be cost-effective.”
Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., for example, has adopted a sheep grazing program.
“We’re especially interested in seeing if we can use grazing in areas that may be unsafe for work crews and equipment, such as steep slopes and nearby water bodies where we avoid the use of chemical herbicides,” Manderson added.