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Cranbrook using goats to manage invasive plants

The City of Cranbrook will employ a trip of goats to help manage invasive plants around Idlewild Park, starting later this week.

Cranbrook said the goats from Vahana Nature Rehabilitation will munch on plants in three priority areas around Idlewild Lake, providing an all-natural alternative to chemical or mechanical plant removal.

Initial work will start on Thursday, with it initially focusing on the Priority 2 zone between the new wetland area and the lake itself.

“We call the goat grazing a new, ancient technology,” said Cailey Chase, Owner of Vahana Nature Rehabilitation. “Goats have been used for centuries to help reduce unwanted vegetation in cities. We see this as an opportunity for Cranbrook to use the eco-friendly, nature-friendly goat grazing to reduce vegetation around our precious water sources that are nurseries to so many foundational parts of nature.”

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The City is asking park users to watch out for signage at the park’s entrance when the goats will be on-site.

Dogs must remain on a leash and under control at Idlewild and all city green spaces, other than Muriel Baxter Dog Park. Dog owners are also asked to avoid the priority areas all together with their pet while the goats are on-site.

Based on the results of the goat treatment in Idlewild Park, the City said the use of the animals could become a larger, long-term project. Cranbrook has been working with the Columbia Outdoor School on a larger invasive plant management strategy for Joseph Creek.

“The spread of invasive weeds can seriously affect habitat. Establishing the plan and testing effective removal techniques will help to determine the best methods for removal throughout the creek,” said Todd Hebert, Executive Director of Columbia Outdoor School. “Not only are the goats an effective removal technique, but they are pretty darn cute too!”

A map depicting the priority zones where goats will be used to manage Idlewild Park’s invasive plant populations. (Supplied by the City of Cranbrook)
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