After setting 75 goats loose in a local park to get rid of invasive species of plants, an Oregon city government submitted a report acknowledging the experiment was an expensive failure, in part because the goats went rogue and ate both desirable and undesirable plants.
“The goats were not selective in what they ate, devouring native plants along with invasives,” the city manager noted in the report, which found the cost of the project was five times that of human labor.
The city paid $11,375 to rent the goats and another $2,560 to monitor the goats, which did not succeed in getting rid of all the invasive plants. The city had to spend thousands more dollars on a crew to finish the removal of blackberry canes the goats left behind.
The city ended up spending $20,719 for the project, which is more than five times the cost of simply mowing the park ($3,370) or paying a crew of inmates to do the work ($4,425). Despite the expensive failure of the pilot, the city manager did not rule out the use of goats for “targeted grazing” in the future.
“The cost for invasive vegetation management is highly dependent on the characteristics of the site and there are likely locations on City-owned property where goats may be more cost-effective, such as on steep slopes or areas where inmate crews or mowers cannot be utilized,” the city manager concluded. “City staff have not yet identified specific areas in parks where that might be the case, but as they are identified, using targeted grazing by goats will be considered.”
The report also noted that the goats were “almost” universally welcomed by park users, although the entire park “had a barnyard aroma” while they were present.
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