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My Town: Goats on the loose at Eastmanville Bayou | Environment

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My Town: Goats on the loose at Eastmanville Bayou
My Town: Goats on the loose at Eastmanville Bayou

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich—Visitors to Eastmanville Bayou will encounter the county’s new set of four-legged landscapers.

The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department says a herd of grazing goats has been released at the bayou to begin its work reducing invasive species.  Visitors are welcome to watch the goats at work, but should remain clear of the electric fence surrounding them and not pet the goats.  Plant oils from the poison ivy and other invasive plants the goats are munching on could be on the goats’ coats, making them transferrable to humans.

The goats are also being used at Bur Oak Landing in Coopersville and Riverside Park in Grand Haven. 

The Ottawa County Parks Department says repeated use of grazing goats has been shown to eliminate 90 percent of invasive, woody plants over three years. Park officials say the goats will reduce department costs by reducing the need for herbicides, while clearing areas lawn mowers and machinery normally cannot reach.

The three-year pilot project is expected to cost Ottawa County $5,500 to start, but the Friends of Ottawa County Parks group is donating $2,500 to the effort.