Goats may be best weapon against invasive species


Goats seem to prefer buckthorn over bergamot – and that’s a good thing for biologists.

Students in Susan Dudley’s third-year biology field course got a lesson in chemical-free ecosystem rehabilitation this week when they travelled to the McMaster Forest with a small herd of goats.

goats a

Yes, goats.

goats a

Dudley and her class wanted to see if the goats could be used in the fight against invasive species found in the University-owned, 48-hectare forest, which extends west along Lower Lions Club Road from Wilson Street.

goats 1

As it turns out, the goats seemed to prefer plants like buckthorn and orchard grass over native species like wild bergamot and black-eyed Susan.

Goats are becoming popular among environmentally-conscious landowners who want to control invasive plant populations without the use of toxic chemicals.

goats b

Dudley says the next step would be to set up a more formal experiment with the goats, to see what they would eat over the course of multiple days on the property.

goats a