Will goats be the future foot soldiers of Minneapolis' war against invasive species?

Park Board Commissioner Brad Bourn recently proposed enlisting a herd of goats to keep grass trimmed and such invasive species as buckthorn at bay.

It's been tried in other cities, although the hired goats are usually sent to the airport. Chicago, in fact, has recently solicited bids for goats to cut the grass at O'Hare International Airport.

The board was scheduled to consider Bourn's idea, along with other possible spending areas at a meeting Wednesday night, but other commissioners seemed skeptical.

In a pre-meeting survey, only one of eight commissioners said they "fully support" the idea. Three "do not support" it and four ranked it somewhere in the middle. Its average rating was 2 out of a possible 5.

Bourn said before the budget session that he heard about the idea from a parks staffer, who said the animals could be used to combat invasive plants.

"It sounded like ... an interesting idea to try when they talked about it," Bourn said.

"So I just wanted to get some more information on it."

While he didn't have details on the potential location and ownership of the goats, he said it could involve "setting up a grazing pasture for a couple of weeks in one particular area and then letting these animals graze on that buckthorn."

Michael Schmidt, assistant superintendent for environmental stewardship, said he didn't plan to do too much research on the idea unless commissioners express an interest.