'How can you not love goats?': The unsung heroes of summer in Lethbridge are back
LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- The City of Lethbridge is once again calling on a herd of goats to help clean up Alexander Wilderness Park and Indian Battle Park this summer.
Aside from looking cute and cuddly, the goats, owned by the Creekside Goat Company, actually serve a huge importance.
They love the taste of weeds and are helping to rid Lethbridge of invasive species such as leafy spurge, wormwood, thistle, crested wheat grass and brome grasses.
"When we're done, the park looks pristine and nice and the weeds are gone, but you can't tell the impact that they've been there," said Creekside Goat Company owner Robert Finck.
"Being that it's all natural, we don't have to spray any herbicides and you're still able to have a safe environment so people love it."
The clean up crew is made up of over 200 goats who, with the guidance of herd dogs, will be working away in the city's parks until August.
While these dogs are generally friendly, the city is advising residents not to pet the dogs while they’re working and to keep their own dogs out of the area.
A similar grazing program has been successful in Calgary where herds have been able to control invasive weeds and manage and manage vegetation.
It's an industry that seems to be trending upwards with demand growing each year.
"We're in most of the major cities in Alberta but when you come to other parks and private ranch lands, there's a lot of room to manage weeds," said Finck
Elsewhere, baby goats are serving a much different purpose.
The petting zoo at the Lethbridge Corn Maze is back in business and after a successful first year last summer, so is the goat snuggling venture.
"People came out last year and they loved it. But, we had more demand than we had goat supply, and the goat got too big towards the end so we had to quit," said Lethbridge Corn Maze owner Theo Slingerland.
"This year, we started a bit earlier and we also started breeding our herd a little bit different. So, we spread out our breeding program so we'll have little baby goats for the next couple of months."
Hour-long snuggling session with baby goats can be booked online for $30 and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Lethbridge foodbank.
More than $1,100 was donated last year and it looks as though this year will easily surpass that total.
"How can you not love goats? You really can't complain with cuddling some goats, man. Especially these little baby guys," said one customer.
Goats are known to be very social animals that love to interact and play with people.
But be warned, they also tend to enjoy a good nibble on shirts and hair.
With files from Quinn Keenan