ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – If you see goats grazing near the Grand River in Allendale Township, they aren’t there by mistake.
The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department has placed a herd of goats at Eastmanville Bayou to begin to reduce invasive species like poison ivy, bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, Oriental bittersweet and buckthorn, according to a release from the county.
While some invasive species, like poison ivy, are harmful to humans, they don’t affect goats, the county said.
Grazing initially has a similar affect to mowing and stimulates plant growth, the county said. But over time, repeat grazing will help eliminate the plants – by as much as 90 percent over three years.
As a result, the county won’t have to use as much herbicide to kill off the invasive plants, which are destructive enough to take down a full-grown tree, according to Melanie Manion, the natural resource manager for the Ottawa County Parks Department.
The start-up for the program was expected to cost $5,500, however, Ottawa County Commissioner Philip Kuyers donated goats for the project and Friends of the Ottawa County Parks group received a $2,500 donation, which covered all costs.
The county said residents are welcome to watch the goats graze but shouldn’t touch them. Residents should also stay away from the electric fence surrounding the goats.
Two other county parks will also receive the goat-grazing treatment: Bur Oak Park and Riverside Park.