Title: USA: Prince George County to employ goats to remove invasive plants
[Gazette.net 02 March 2012 by Erich Wagner] --Prince George’s County officials said dealing with an invasive plant species can be a tough, expensive job. So the Department of Public Works and Transportation plans to try a new method to clear a sinister shrub from an Upper Marlboro site: goats. The department will hold an informational meeting for residents at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, 12650 Brooke Lane, Upper Marlboro on its plans to employ 50 to 60 of the weedwacking animals for a week in May to clear an acre infested by chocolate vine, a plant native to east Asia, that has taken over the 24-acre Brooke Lane Forest Mitigation Site. DPWT spokeswoman Susan Hubbard said although the project will mark the first time the county uses goats to get rid of invasive plants, the method has proven effective in other jurisdictions in Maryland.
Traditional means of mechanically weeding or using herbicide to get rid of some vines can be ineffective and require repeat treatments. “[With traditional methods], you have to continually cut or spray the weeds,” Hubbard said. “The goats can get down much further and get down to the roots of the plant.” Meredith Strider, Gaithersburg’s environmental project coordinator, said her agency used goats last year to clear out a parcel in the city.
“Everything in the understory of the parcel was invasive,” Strider said. “The goats just defoliated and opened everything up so we could cut it back. This spring we’ll be doing a replanting of part of the area with native plants.” Strider said the goats were effective and were a more environmentally friendly alternative to using herbicide, since the parcel bordered a stream.
Hubbard said each goat herd can eat about a quarter of an acre per day. The goats will be surrounded by a portable electric fence and monitored 24 hours per day, she said. “We’ve got 24-hour supervision, not because we’re afraid that they’ll do anything, but just to make sure they’re contained,” Hubbard said. “And we want to make sure nobody does anything to them either.”