Goats eat away at invasive plants in Putney - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Goats eat away at invasive plants in Putney

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The ridgeline atop Putney Mountain is being invaded by a fast moving plant-- the buckthorn.

"It sets little berries in the fall and the birds eat the berries and distribute them here and there and everywhere," said Claire Wilson of the Putney Mountain Association.

The invasive plant, which has been in Vermont for a couple decades now, chokes out all the vegetation around it. But goats are fighting back, as they nibble on the buckthorn one leaf at a time. The 15 animals were hired by the Putney Mountain Association, which owns the conservation land.

"I am pleased to see that they have eaten as much as they have. I would like it if they were a little bit taller and they could get to the very top," said Libby Mills of the Putney Mountain Association.

"Goats are browsers naturally, so this is what they love to do. It is what the whole business is based around," said Chelsea Grybko of Goat Girls Brush Clearing Company out of Amherst, Massachusetts.

The business rents out goats to anyone needing to get rid of unwanted plants.

"You are restricting the plant's ability to keep the energy is needs for keeping itself alive during the winter," Grybko said.

Grybko is one of two caretakers camping out with the goats to help protect them for predators that might be in the area.

"They are also naturally fertilizing the land as they go along, so they are actually giving back, not just doing the job that we ask them to do," she said.

And they are doing it in a way that will have minimal impact on the environment.

"It would be quick and easy to do it with herbicides, but there are those of us who do not want to put more chemicals in the air," Mills said.

The goats have been making headway during their short stay. The ultimate goal-- keeping the land wide open for the plants and animals, as well as the people who enjoy it.

"It's partly for education and enjoyment of the public for natural areas," Wilson said.

The goats will be in Putney for two weeks, and then return for another week this summer. It's a natural way to rid the ridgeline of an invasive plant that has the potential to overtake the entire area.

The goats cost about $500 a week to rent and double that if caretakers are required to stay onsite.

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