Community

Park District tries goat weedeaters at Blakely Harbor

This adorable kid munches on vegetation in Blakely Harbor Park as part of an effort to reduce overgrown vegetation. - Connie Mears/Staff Photo
This adorable kid munches on vegetation in Blakely Harbor Park as part of an effort to reduce overgrown vegetation.
— image credit: Connie Mears/Staff Photo

No kidding, the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District is employing an adorable (and effective) workforce to reduce the invasive weeds at Blakely Harbor Park.

Through Friday this week, 220 goats are roaming the densely grown and uneven terrain of the park, munching on vegetation and ruminating in the sun.

Spirited kids kicked up their heels as two youngsters went head to head over bragging rights. Long-horned billy goats stood up on hind legs to reach tender shoots on an apple tree.

The goats belong to Healing Hooves, a natural vegetation management company owned by Craig and Sue Lani Madsen, who rent out the bleating workforce to municipalities and public property managers. The herd consists of 110 kids and 110 adults of the Spanish and Boer goats,  Craig Madsen said Wednesday.

“We wanted to try another approach,” said Metro Park and Recreation District’s Mike Mejia. “We’ve used the Student Conservation Corps and mechanical methods. It’s an experiment with nontoxic weed control.”

The “weed and feed” method is not selective, as  the goats “really go to town” on everything but the nettles, said Mejia.

The district contracted for the three-day minimum at $700 a day.

The goats, under the supervision of Harvey the goat dog, are corralled  by a solar-powered electric fence to keep them contained. The ampage on the fence is turned higher at night to keep predators out. Madsen camps onsite as well.

The public is welcome to enjoy the herd’s progress through Friday, but please don’t feed the goats. Madsen lost several goats earlier this month when a neighbor dumped yard clippings into the goat’s pen.

To learn more about natural vegetation management, or to read Harvey’s blog, visit www.healinghooves.com.

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