Goats arrive to eat invasive plants on Barker-Stewart Island

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - A tribe of goats is settling into their new home on Barker-Stewart Island in Wausau Wednesday night.

And no, they’re not part of a petting zoo. They’re in the city to eat invasive plants that have become comfortable on the island.

It’s part of a solution city leaders say will do the most with the least amount of chemicals.

Eating plants that are a burden is the goats’ job, traveling to sites around the area that need help controlling bad plants.

“This is something the goats do on a regular basis. This is one of their first municipal jobs I believe,” said Jamie Polley, Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry.

They’re from Liberation Farmers in Almond. Wednesday that assignment is taking them to Barker-Stewart Island, their home for two to three weeks.

“It took them a long time to make sure this was the right move for Wausau, and it is, so they’re here today and I’m super excited,” said Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg.

The goal is for them to do the job without manpower and instead of the parks department spraying chemicals that could be harmful to Wausau neighbors and the Wisconsin River.

“The goats are a different way of getting rid of the buckthorn and honeysuckle where we don’t have to use any chemical treatments or we also can free up some of the man-hours in this busy season,” Polley said.

If their clients are satisfied with the job, the city may look to re-hire the goats for more projects.

“You know, we have a couple places in Wausau where this would actually be really helpful to have goats removing, but this is the first place we’re going to try it, with the island. And it’s especially great because you’re not spraying chemicals or on the water. This is really a good move all around,” Rosenberg said.

While it may seem tempting to touch the goats, there are some rules to be mindful of when walking or taking your dog on the island. Click here to read the guidelines.

Barker-Stewart Island is on the Wisconsin River north of Scott Street. It’s between S. 1st Avenue and 1st Street.

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