Culture

Who Knew Goats Could Be Fired?

Sometimes in life, you get what you pay for. Parks keepers in Oregon learned this lesson the hard way:

A crew of goats brought in to devour invasive plants at a popular park in Oregon’s state capital, Salem, have been fired because they ate indiscriminately, cost nearly five times as much as human landscapers and smelled far worse, a city official said on Friday.

The crew: 75 billy and nanny goats. Their task: to eat away the invasive Armenian blackberry and English ivy “choking native vegetation” across the 1200-acre Minto-Brown Island Park. This task begs the simple question of the people making decisions: how do you explain to a goat which are the invasive vegetation and which are the native? Common sense seems to dictate that if you set hungry barnyard animals out into the wild, they’re going to eat everything in their paths. No matter how badly you want an animal to do something, you’re not going to trump the natural inclination of the livestock:

While the goats were “almost universally welcomed by park users as a pleasant, pastoral addition to the scenery,” they also greedily devoured native flora right along with invasive targets, choosing tasty maple and hazelnut trees. In one area, they ate all the leaves from blackberry stems but left the prickly bramble.

Six weeks after the pilot program began, it was canceled, with no plans to renew (for obvious reasons). Sometimes well-intentioned eco-centric thinking isn’t the best way to go.