Contributed photoGoats are a safe, nontoxic solution for vegetation removal.

Al’s Goats of Springvale will be in residence for approximately one month behind the Waterford Library.

WATERFORD — As of June 4, Al’s Goats of Springvale will be in residence for approximately one month behind the Waterford Library. Located in sight of the shoreline, the goal is an environmentally safe method of eradicating all the overgrown poison ivy and other invasive species. Goats are a safe, nontoxic solution. Aside from making the backyard safer for visitors, this also is the ecological and educational contribution in support of the Keoka Lake Association’s 50th Anniversary of lake protection and stewardship, according to a news release.

Prior to the herd’s arrival, a survey was conducted to determine exactly which plant species were growing on the property. Photos and cuttings are shared with an on-call biologist. Aside from poison ivy, there are ferns, blackberries, locust, wild cherries, buttercups, vetch, ground elder/bishop’s weed, goat weed, nan’s bush, the usual saplings, and various other plants. Several species, predominantly in the milkweed family, and especially spurge, are all highly toxic and lethal to goats. For their safety, those dangerous plants were cut down and removed before the herd arrived.

According to Al Charon, poison ivy has no natural predators, so any plants eaten by the goats are naturally stressed. This causes them to get crispy, and die. Goat urine also effectively burns out the oils in the ivy. A special solar electric fence is placed around the entire area to be consumed, and each day the goats are placed inside. Their goat herder is with them during the day, and the goats sleep in a nearby trailer overnight. Small areas are consumed in just a few days. Goats can eat approximately one acre of vegetation in a month.

When you visit, please do not feed them anything. Goats nibble on everything including fingers, earbuds, phones, shirts, pants, shoelaces, hair, etc. Some nearby plants are lethal to goats.

Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Do not allow children or pets near the electric fence. Goats are very social and love to play and nap. They are most active in the morning and late afternoon. Playbreaks help their digestion, and help keep them on task.

The public is welcome to schedule a time to play with the goats at no extra charge.

To schedule an appointment, email [email protected]. For more information, visit waterfordmainelibrary.org.

 

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