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Edmonton to bring goats to park this summer as part of weed-killing project

Pilot project is part of Edmonton’s efforts to use less herbicides when killing weeds

Goats are pictured in Calgary at Confluence Park where in 2016, the city initiated a weed-grazing pilot to see how effective the grass eaters were at curbing invasive plants.

Helen Pike / Metro

Goats are pictured in Calgary at Confluence Park where in 2016, the city initiated a weed-grazing pilot to see how effective the grass eaters were at curbing invasive plants.

Edmonton is totes-magoats getting ready to bring the loveable farm animals to a couple city parks this summer, with a pilot project that will deploy them as environmentally friendly weed control.

City spokesperson Kristen Wagner confirmed Thursday that Edmonton plans to give the goats a try starting in July.

The goat pilot is part of a larger city push to limit herbicides and use more natural weed-killing remedies, she said.

“Herbicides are only applied to only about two per cent of city parkland,” she said, noting the goats are particularly helpful with Canada thistle, leafy spurge and common tansy.

Wagner couldn’t confirm who will be shepherding the bleating billys, but Jeannette Hall, owner and shepherd of Baah’d Plant Management, told Metro she’s in talks with the city to finalize an agreement.

“I’m really excited for Edmonton,” Hall said. “There are so many great green spaces, even along roads, that the goats will take advantage of.”

Her company is responsible for a herd of roughly 100 goats in Calgary, who are part of a weed project launched there last year. The goats live in an enclosed camp at night, and then are turned loose during the day under the watchful eye of a shepherd.

Shepherd Jeannette Hall pictured at Confluence Park in Calgary.

Helen Pike / Metro

Shepherd Jeannette Hall pictured at Confluence Park in Calgary.

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Hall emphasizes her charges aren’t “grazers,” because they don’t eat everything.

“I basically train them so they associate weeds as a treat,” she said. “We also do a good job to ensure they’re not eating native plants, or putting pressure on native species.”

She said the Calgary project has gone “quite well” so far.  

“They’re actually pretty quiet and don’t make a lot of noise.”

Edmonton can expect about 200 goats, Hall said, noting they will be roaming in Rundle Park. 

Hall has shepherded for seven years, and explained goats make great weed-killers because they completely digest seeds from the weeds they eat. That means when they poop, they’re not spreading the pest around.

But as cute as they are, Hall reminds people to keep their distance from the goats, who have a job to do.  

“We don’t mind if people come and watch us,” she said. “We do recommend people keep their dogs on leashes. Goats get tired, too, and they need breaks from the crowds.”

Expect more details on Edmonton’s goat pilot next week.

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