MEDICINE HAT – Approximately 150 goats will help Parks staff control an invasive weed species as part of a two-week pilot project in Police Point Park.
The Parks and Recreation Department is testing the alternative weed control method, known as target browsing, in some areas of Police Point Park to control leafy spurge, a noxious weed common in southern Alberta.
“Leafy spurge spreads through its seeds and extensive underground stems, and can also be spread through waterways via seed dispersal,” said Keziah Lesko-Gosselin, Parks Technician with the City of Medicine Hat. “Goats can be trained to eat a particular plant species, and in this case, they are able to eat aboveground parts of the weed while their digestive tracks destroy the seeds.”
Parks staff have attempted to rid of the weed using a variety of techniques in the past, including spaying pesticides, however, are unable to access segments of the park, due to the natural terrain and coulees, and the inability to apply pesticides in close proximity to water
“Several cities in Alberta have had successful weed control using the target browsing technique,” said Lesko-Gosslin. “This is a preventative measure which will help stop the weed from spreading further, while also improving soil conditions and allowing native vegetation to thrive.”
Signs will be placed in the area where the goats are grazing, asking the goats not be disturbed. All trails throughout the park will remain open for public use. Parks and Recreation would like to remind park visitors that Police Point Park remains an on-leash area.
-Klim Kin photo