Officials are turning to a natural and unique method to help control weeds in Calgary parks this spring.

A herd of goats, managed by a professional shepherd and a team of highly trained herding dogs will be patrolling two parks to help control weeds.

Representatives with the city say that the pilot project has a number of benefits for Calgary’s parks.

“Targeted grazing for weeds is environmentally friendly, sustainable and there’s evidence from other cities that indicates it can be cost-effective,” said Chris Manderson, Urban Conservation lead with Calgary Parks, in a release.

The city says that crews have always been committed to using natural methods for weed control wherever possible and data will be collected during the pilot project to analyze the effectiveness of the goat grazing.

“We’re especially interested in seeing if we can use grazing in areas that may be unsafe for work crews and equipment, such as steep slopes and nearby water bodies where we avoid the use of chemical herbicides” said Manderson.

So far, the goats will be deployed in Confluence (West Nose Creek) Park and another park where Canadian thistle, a particularly noxious weed, is beginning to flower.

The timing of the project is weather-dependent, but officials hope to have hooves on the ground by late May or early June.

The project is part of the City of Calgary’s 10-year biodiversity strategy.