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Target Browsing with Goats

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Project Description

Parks and Recreation will be using an alternative weed control method, known as Target Browsing, in an area of Police Point Park in order to control leafy spurge, an invasive, noxious weed.

A contracted goat shepherd will bring about 150 goats to the area, helping control the weed and prevent it from spreading across the landscape.


Timing & Accommodations

This pilot project will begin in late June and last approximately two weeks.

All trails throughout the park will remain open for public use.

Benefits

Target browsing is a preventative measure that will control plant populations and help stop the weed from spreading.

Leafy spurge spreads through seed propagation and rhizomes, underground stems that spread extensively like roots. The weed is also able to spread through waterways. The entire plant must be destroyed in order to keep it from spreading, and often takes many tries due to its underground structure. Parks staff use other techniques to control the leafy spurge, including spraying pesticides.

Goats can be trained to eat a particular species. In this instance, they are able to eat aboveground parts of the plant, and their digestive tracks destroy the seeds so they cannot be redistributed.

The goats are also able to access areas of the park humans and pesticides cannot, helping to naturally improve soil conditions while allowing native vegetation to thrive.

Safety

Signs will be placed in the area where the goats are grazing, asking that the goats not be disturbed.

Additional Information

Leafy spurge is considered to be a noxious species in Alberta and is listed under the Alberta Weed Control Act as a threat to our environment. It is legislatively required to be controlled.

Several cities in Alberta have had successful weed control using target browsing, and the trend is growing as more communities and industries become aware of the benefits and applications.

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The City of Medicine Hat thanks residents for their support and understanding for the duration of this project.

For more information:

Parks & Recreation
City of Medicine Hat
403.529.8333