OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. (April 11, 2014) — Beginning in May, the Ottawa County Parks is starting a pilot program to kill invasive plant and shrub species: goats.
“Unlike other livestock, goats grazing on property prefer to eat woody, shrub-like plants,” according to a release issued on Friday. “Some parks have had woody invasive species take root. Hungry goats will help the park’s battle to eradicate them from the land.”
Ottawa County Parks says this reduces the need for herbicides, and goats grazing on the targeted species can reduce them by 90% over three years.
The species they are targeting include bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, Oriental bittersweet, poison ivy, and buckthorn.
Three county parks have been chosen for the treatment: Eastmanville Bayou, Bur Oak and Riverside Park. Following the summer of 2014, staff will assess the program to identify any unanticipated issues, and then continue using the goats for two additional years for maximum impact.
The cost for the project start-up is a one-time fee of $3,000 for fencing plus $2,500 each year to lease the goats. A generous donation of $2,500 was received from the Friends of the Ottawa County Parks group to support the project.