A: Goats can be a very economical, green, and fast way to remove invasive species and they are being used successfully in many places. A fellow AmeriCorp member recently utilized their help at her new community P-Patch, Shiga’s Garden. However, they have not proven ideal for our Green Cities Program.
The use of goats can be cost-effective in comparison to other hired removal techniques (aka paid human labor or machines), but they still cost money and take time to monitor. Also, the Green City Programs often work in areas where there are many important native plants that we want to keep alive and when employing goats, they are not as selective as our human volunteers. Also, goats can only eat up to their head height (~3 feet) and they aren’t able to dig up the roots, which for most invasive species (especially Himalayan blackberry) means a whole new crop will grow up in their place the following year!
This is why we rely so heavily on our human volunteers and it’s amazing what you guys accomplish in a short amount of time. In Seattle, volunteers have helped remove more than 400 acres of invasive species since 2005. The hard work & sweat you put into digging up those roots is the best way for us to combat these weeds. We are able to remove the roots of the plant, limit the amount of soil disturbance and erosion, leave native plants intact (which can repopulate), and replant with native species to help along the restoration process. Your hard work is our first and our best line of defense against these invasive species. We simply could not accomplish our goals without your help! Thank you volunteers!