A herd of goats has been introduced to Confluence Park for a few weeks to help clear invasive weed species.

About 100 goats will dine on weeds such as Canada thistle to test the feasibility of grazing as a tool to manage natural areas.

 “The goats are an environmentally-friendly way that helps us manage weeds in tricky areas, such as along water-ways or on steep slopes, where traditional methods are not appropriate,” said Chris Manderson, urban conservation lead for Calgary Parks.

Managing invasive weed species is important to ensure that native vegetation thrives, which in turn encourages healthy wildlife habitat and food sources.

Using goats is an alternative to pesticide use, their droppings fertilize the soil, and their hooves work the earth helping to till, aerate and condition the ground.

Although the park will remain open, the public is asked to keep a respectful distance from the herd and their handlers.

“These animals are working animals. For the safety of the public and the animals, we are reminding people to adhere to the bylaw and keep their dogs on-leash, bike slowly through the area, and do not approach or try to pet the goats or herd dogs,” says Manderson.

The park’s fenced off-leash area and the BP BirthPlace Forest are not included in the grazing area and will not be affected. 

Once the grazing work is complete, the public will be invited to an event to meet the shepherd and pet the animals. To follow the pilot, please visit the City of Calgary Parks Facebook page or calgary.ca/goats for more information.