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Winter cautioned that the goats prefer shrubs, but once the leaves are gone, they’ll start eating grass and everything else.
“That’s just what they do,” he said. “We don’t know where they put it all. We don’t know where it all goes.”
Reese said the use of goats to control buckthorn, garlic mustard and other pesky weeds is rare in the Midwest as far as he knows, but they’ve been used for years in the Southeast to control the invasive kudzu vine, and in Montana and other Great Plains states to beat back the spread of leafy spurge on rangelands.
Even after the goats graze the park’s farmland a couple of times this year, Reese expects he may need to bring them back for a second year, because buckthorn grows back quickly from its roots and also spreads by seed.
He also is planning a secondary assault on the buckthorn with another strategy: pigs.
“Pigs will root it up and eat some of those buckthorn roots so we can move in and get some grasses planted,” he said.
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388