Weed-eating goats could come to JP

August 15, 2014
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Goats are nibbling plants in Hyde Park in a Boston Parks Department pilot program using the animals as old-school weed control. If it works out, the goats could come to JP’s urban wilds to manage invasive plant species like poison ivy, buckthorn and Japanese knotweed.

Five years ago, JP residents proposed using goats to landscape the South Street Mall during a renovation of that park at South Street and Caroline Avenue. But the Parks Department shot down the concept.

Now the goats are at work in Hyde Park’s West Street Urban Wild. The experiment is a team-up with the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation (SWBCDC) and the Goatscaping Company of Duxbury and Plymouth.

“We’re trying it out for eight weeks,” Ryan Woods from Boston Parks Department told the Gazette. “We want to make sure the goats fare well.”

According to Woods, the goats aren’t costing the City anything, as the trial is being covered by a grant filed by the SWBCDC. Volunteers are caring for the animals in Hyde Park, including feeding them supplemental water, hay and grain.

If volunteers are found and if expenses can continued to be defrayed, then the City would consider expanding the “goatscaping” to JP’s urban wilds, including Nira Rock, and part of Franklin Park, Woods said.

The idea was generated when teenagers from the Hyde Park Green Team, SWBCDC’s environmental education and job readiness program, approached Mayor Martin Walsh to discuss “goatscaping” at a May 27 Mayor’s Neighborhood Coffee Hour in Hyde Park.

The goats will eat the large amounts of poison ivy currently covering the West Street urban wild in Hyde Park, making it safe for Green Team youth to enter the site to begin tree pruning and trail building.

According to a City press release, the public is welcome to view the goats. The goats won’t bite or buck and are very accustomed to the presence of people of all ages. City officials warn, however, that the animals will be living among and eating poison ivy plants and will have poison ivy oils on their fur. The public should not pet them. In addition, visitors should not tease or feed the goats.

Located at the easternmost part of West Street in Hyde Park, the West Street Urban Wild is a rare piece of greenspace along the Neponset River.