A herd of goats will soon be roaming the hillsides of Flandrau State Park in southern Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources. While fun to watch, the goats will be performing the important task of eating, and thereby controlling, invasive plants in the park.

About 22 acres will be cordoned off for the goats to browse this season. It’s a chemical-free way to control troublesome plants like common buckthorn, garlic mustard and dame’s rocket. Goats love to eat thorny brush and woody vegetation and other plants such as poison ivy and thistles that are ignored by other animals.

“The goats will browse a very hilly part of the park,” said DNR regional resource specialist Molly Tranel-Nelson. “Those areas are steep and difficult, so these goats offer a cost-effective, sustainable, and safe way to control invasive and undesirable plants.”

The cost-effectiveness make the goats an attractive option.

Goats will be cared for, watered, and regularly checked by a contracting goat herder. The goats will be contained within an electric mesh fence and regularly checked. A guard donkey or llama may be present to protect the goats from other animals.

Some trails may need to be temporarily closed while the goats are in the area. Visitors are asked to respect fences and signage that designate temporary trail closures. Visitors are also reminded to keep pets on-leash at all times and not allow them to chase the goats. People should not approach the goats.

The problem of invasive species has persisted at Flandrau State Park. Sadly, Flandrau isn’t alone in its fight against invasives. Park visitors can do their part to prevent the spread of invasives by using boot brushes available at park trailheads. Visitors can also:
• Ensure belongings and pets are free of mud and plant debris.
• Include cleaning tools like hand brooms and boot brushes for the trip.
• Dispose of plant debris and weed seeds in the trash.