Goats rid of invasive species taking over native plants

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When people visit the town of Thurmond, they may come across an unusual sight. That sight just may be goats grazing the hillside for a yummy treat. 

The New River Gorge National Park Service has brought in 24 goats from New York for a special job; a job these goats might actually enjoy. These goats are being used to treat invasive species of plants in Thurmond.

These plants include: Japanese Knotweed, Rosa Multifora, and the most invasive of them all, Kudzu.

According to NPS Park Ranger, Leah Perkowski-Sisk, this has been something they have been looking to for quite sometime. 

“The goat project was one that had been experimented with in other parks and seemed like a very viable option here,” Perkowski-Sisk said.

Goats are typically not picky eaters, they will eat just about anything, and that is why they are so perfect for this job. These species put the historic structures and native plants at risk, along with a heavier fuel load that could increase the risk of fires. 

“We’ve tried a couple of different methods, we’ve gone in and cut the kudzu, we’ve treated it chemically,  and we’re just really not gaining much ground,” Perkowski-Sisk said.

The goats will be in Thurmond for a month, until they depleted these species. This project is to be done over three years, so the goats will return over the next two years. During this time, Perkowski-Sisk explained the NPS will be doing extensive research to see if goat grazing has made a significant impact on this non-native vegetation.

“This is a pilot project for us, if it does prove successful, there are other areas that could certainly use the help of some goats,” Perkowski-Sisk said.

National Park Service rangers urge the public to come to Thurmond and check these busy goats in action, doing what they do best: eat!

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