Goat on a pasture

Damakant Jayshi

Barker-Stewart Island Park in Wausau is now a temporary home to about 50 goats on a mission: to eat invasive species like honeysuckle, buckthorn, and garlic mustard.

The aim is to create space for native plants by having the goats eat the fast-growing and expanding invasive plants. Parks officials say the goats are a natural alternative to using pesticides and chemicals.

The goats, which arrived July 7, will likely stay for a total of two or three weeks.

“The time will depend on how fast the goats eat the invasive plants on site,” said Parks Director Jamie Polley. “If they eat more than expected they will be here for two weeks. At this time, they are on pace to be here for three weeks.”

The goats, from Liberation Farmers in Almond, will cost the City of Wausau $3,200, Polley said.

According to a flyer issued by the Parks, Recreation and Forestry department, the animals will be confined to target areas with the help of an electric fence. Parks staff will check on the goats multiple times a day. A Facebook page maintained by the department said the farmers’ trailer will remain near the park should the goats need shelter. The department is urging visitors to avoid approaching the goats and keep dogs on a leash at all times.

During a meeting of Wausau’s Park and Recreation Committee on Monday Polley said a goat-related event in Barker-Stewart Island Park is planned for July 22. Details will be sent out soon.

On June 15, the City Council approved a temporary amendment to the City’s forbidden animal ordinance for the goats to be deployed for invasive species removal. This followed a Public Health and Safety Committee decision on May 24 to do the same.