In an effort to aid the environment, a herd of 260 goats was brought back to Calgary, Canada’s Nose Hill Park to graze on grass and vegetation in the Rubbing Stone Hill section. The animals will feast on grassland for 30 days with the idea that they’ll reduce invasive species and dead vegetation, which will hopefully lead to the opening of stretches for wildflowers to begin growing. The animals are said to have been grazing in the Nose Hill area since 2016, and the City of Calgary notes that it isn’t merely their teeth that benefit the environment.
In a statement released by the city, it was noted, “Goat droppings fertilize the soil, and their hooves work the earth, helping to till, aerate, and condition the ground.” The removal or loss of animals in forests and on plains can lead to unhealthy shifts in fragile ecosystems that otherwise depend on various creatures for survival.
“Grazing has historically been an important part of the ecology of Nose Hill and has played a critical role in maintaining the native grassland species diversity. Introducing targeted grazing back to the [Nose] Hill will help remove dead vegetation and keep the competitive species in check. The goats are essentially opening new “real estate” for native species to colonize, and this encourages healthy wildlife habitat and biodiversity on the [Nose] Hill,” stated Andrew Phelps, a Park ecologist.
Maintaining Balance in Habitats
City officials added that the targeted grazing is part of a plan developed to assist in restoring 20 percent of open space in Calgary by the year 2025. “Historically, the grazing of herbivores including bison, elk, and cattle, helped maintain the natural ecosystem of this area. The absence of grazing has led to the loss of normal ecosystem control mechanisms that would have promoted empty niches for many native plant species to thrive,” they acknowledged.
Goat Shepherding is Still Alive
To help keep the program running smoothly, a professional shepherd and herding dogs have been enlisted for the duration of the project. They’ll be there 24/7 to keep everyone safe, including the goats. This is likely due in part to the fact that physical interaction with the goats and the public isn’t going to be allowed. Goats, while not normally considered to be dangerous, can be frisky devils and get into trouble when left unsupervised. For more info on the park and the project, visit the city website here.Whizzco