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Taking a bite out of invasive species

Goat eating invasive plant.

BENZIE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) — While walking near the Arcadia Dunes C.S. Mott Nature Preserve, you’d expect to find some wild life. However, much of that wildlife is being threatened by invasive species.

"Look around," said Jon Throop, a Land Steward with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. "This place is just over run with just an enormous amount and variety of invasive species."

The land conservancy began discussing different methods to fight this problem, but one of them in particular stuck out.

“We've been talking about goats since I started at the conservancy," Throop said. "But it was always kind of a joke right? Like, we’re never actually going to do it.”

However, this year they did do it, and they aren't the only ones. Across the country, goats have become an increasingly popular alternative to using chemicals for fighting invasive plants. Not only do goats make the problem much more manageable, they also get fed well too.

“This is their favorite stuff to eat," Throop explained. "These really nasty prickly things like autumn olive and multiflora rose that’s terrible for us to go through, it’s their favorite food.”

“As far as it being a natural route for taking care of invasives, I think it’s extremely effective," said AmeriCorps member Samantha Griffin, who has been helping with the goat project. "Most of the time invasives are here because they don't have much of a natural predator, and putting the goats out here in the ecosystem creates that natural predator.”

Chowing down on invasive plants, these goats are serving an important and delicious purpose.

“We look at the goat solution because it is a total solution," explained Throop. "We could do the job just as well with a ton of herbicides but this is a nice system where we’re taking the dry does from a dairy farm, so they no longer serve their purpose in that role, but here they can live out their days eating their favorite food and make it so much easier for us to go in and use way less chemical to get the same amount of control.”

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