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Grazing Goats Serve As Weed Removers For Minnetonka Park

MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) -- The city of Minnetonka has some interesting new residents and they aren't human. The city has enlisted a herd of goats to help fight an environmental problem in one of its parks.

It's a new and welcome sight for visitors in Purgatory Park.

They're peaceful, and pretty darn cute, but a herd of 22 goats is tackling a pretty big problem here in the park. Natural Resource Manager Jo Colleran says these guys are part of an experiment to control invasive plants -- specifically buckthorn and garlic mustard.

"Our goal is that they will eat it down, they will control the seed source and we're hoping that it will be another tool we have to combat invasive species," she said.

And it's doing the trick -- they eat quite a bit. The herd has been grazing for one month and have devoured about four acres already, but Colleran says the results aren't final just yet.

"We're still documenting how successful it was because, are the plants regrowing? Are they going to flower and reseed? Are there other plants that we lost that maybe we wanted to keep?" she said.

It's difficult to estimate exactly how much they eat every day, but areas beyond the park's fenced-in boundaries provide a good measure of what the park might look like without the grazing herd.

For now, Colleran calls the situation a win-win -- an eco-friendly way to combat the problem and the ravenous goats are getting fed. Plus, she loves hanging with them and even has a favorite.

"It's a little buff goat," she said. "It got a little more hot and humid. It's very social."

Officials are reminding visitors not to pet or feed the goats.

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