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The GoatWorks Pilot Project is an innovative program using goats to manage noxious weed infestations in natural areas and parks.

We are piloting an environmentally conscious method of weed control in Rundle Park. Goats!

Want to Visit the Goats?

Viewing Dates 

Want to catch an impromptu glimpse of the goats in action? Here are the dates the goats will be in Rundle Park in 2019:

  • July 25-29
  • September 11-15

Please note that due to weather, travel, and other unforeseen circumstances, these dates are tentative and will change without notice.  

Where to Look 

Want to know where to look? The goats are generally located north of the tennis courts and south of the golf course.

Goat Viewing Rules 

Are you coming to see the goats in action? If so, please follow these simple rules:

Keep Your Distance from the Fence
Please don’t pet the goats. They are here to work! You are welcome to view the goats from the paths but please give them room to do their job.

Don't Feed the Goats
They have enough Leafy Spurge and other noxious weeds to munch on—we don’t want to spoil their appetite!

Keep Dogs on a Leash
There will be herding dogs off-leash and working, but they are trained to protect and herd the goats. They are very protective of their goats, so they will bark at any strange dogs approaching the herd. 

Report Irresponsible Viewing Behaviour
Report any irresponsible goat viewing behaviour to staff on site or by calling 311.

Why Are There Goats in Rundle Park?

Reducing Herbicide Use

In June 2015, City Council approved a motion to ban herbicides with some exemptions on City-owned land. The aim of the ban is to eliminate non-essential uses of herbicides on City-owned land while recognizing there are circumstances where herbicide use is required. Herbicide is now only used on a very small percentage of public parkland. In many areas, the City uses a combination of mowing, trimming, hand pulling and biological controls to manage weeds. The City is also exploring the use of trained goats to combat noxious weeds in public areas, referred to as the GoatWorks Pilot Project. 
 

Why Goats?

Goats are the best animals for the job because they are all-terrain browsers. Because of the uneven and often elevated terrain in Rundle Park, it is uniquely suited for us to test the effectiveness of using goats as targeted browsers when other means are unavailable. We have contracted Baah’d Plant Management and Reclamation, including their herd of approximately 400 goats, to target and remove invasive species in Rundle Park. 

How Targeted Browsing Works

  • These particular goats have been trained to target weed species like Leafy Spurge, Canada Thistle, and Toadflax, so they are ideal for potentially sensitive areas where herbicides or other control methods would be impractical or inappropriate. 
  • The goats will be targeting noxious weeds, but they will sample dandelions and other vegetation. They are also effective means of fire management because they reduce kindling and other dry materials at the base of trees and shrubs. 
  • When seeds pass through a goat’s digestive tract, germination is reduced in some plant species. The goal is to have the goats eat the weeds before they go to seed. Goat poop becomes an effective fertilizer that degrades quickly.
  • The goats are never left alone. A skilled shepherd is on site 24 hours a day, and they will use voice commands, dogs, and other means to manage their herd. All humans and animals are working hard!
  • It takes the herd roughly one week to target browse an area of 10 Ha in Rundle Park. Each day they will be contained to a different area, which ensures that the goats effectively remove noxious species while maintaining the health of natural species in each area. 
  • The goats will leave Rundle Park for 30-40 days prior to returning for a second session in July and a third session in September. Concurrent sessions and leaves of absence aid in reducing the effective growth of noxious weed species. 

Is It Effective?

The GoatWorks Pilot Project has partnered with researchers at Olds College. During each stage of the project we recorded a sample of vegetation in Rundle Park in key areas that the goats have been hired to target browse. We are interested in assessing what species are growing in Rundle Park and measuring how species have changed across the three-year pilot. The results of the pilot project, which ends in 2019, will be made available in 2020. In the meantime, here is a view of the change in the Leafy Spurge infestation (a yellow noxious species) between May and June of 2019.

What do you think about the goats’ effectiveness?

Additional Information

GoatWorks

Detailed information on our GoatWorks Pilot Project!

For More Information

GoatWorks

Did you miss the goats? Check out our social media pages below for up-to-date information on dates, events, and goat facts! Check out this video about our pilot project covered by CBC National in 2018

Email goats@edmonton.ca
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/YEGParks
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/yeg_parks
Twitter https://twitter.com/yegparks

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