Goats mow, chow down invasive weed species in Hyattsville

Photo: Mike Conneen/WJLA

HYATTSVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - It's not often you drive through the city and see a herd of goats grazing on the side of the road, but that's exactly what drivers in Hyattsville are seeing.

But this is no petting zoo, and it’s causing many to slam on their brakes or stop in their tracks. They all ask the same question: Why?

The Anacostia Watershed Society hired the herd from Eco-Goats to clear an invasive Japanese weed species called "kudzu."

Anacostia Watershed Society stewardship manager Mary Abe said, “People love [goats], the goats have something to eat, we're getting rid of our invasives. It's a win-win.”

“Kudzu really doesn't have any wildlife habitat, so birds and wildlife that you would normally find along the stream just don't have anything to eat,” she said.

At $375 a day, the cost to rent a herd of goats is comparable to hiring a contractor. But employing farm animals avoids compacting the soil with heavy equipment or polluting the nearby northwest branch of the Anacostia with an herbicide.

Better yet, goats work day and night, rain or shine. They get the job done and they don't talk baaaaack -- for the most part.

But project coordinators said their best benefit is the curiosity factor – the opportunity to engage and educate the public about the watershed.

Once clear of weeds, they plan to plant two thousand new trees and other native species along the creek.

“Some grasses, some nice wild flowers… we'll look at things that do better in a wetland environment,” said restoration project manager Ashley Stanton.

Not one neighbor seemed to mind the smell wafting across the street from the herd. Some said they actually liked it.

Greenbelt resident Jennifer Loss drove to Hyattsville just to see the animals. Like others, she compared the odor to goat cheese.

“It is rather gamey or something. Rich… yeah, it has a certain sense. It's fresh,” Loss said.

By week's end, the goats will have cleared 1.5 acres half worth of weeds. But they will have to build up their appetities because in the spring they'll do it again. They will tackle two acres on the other side of the creek.

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