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Goats take a bite out of Esquimalt park’s invasive plants

A dozen weed-munching special guests were invited to an Esquimalt park this week to help celebrate Earth Day.
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Goats chow down at Highrock Park in Esquimalt, as part of a community effort to weed out invasive species such as Scotch broom and ivy. The goats were picked for the task for their ability to quietly clear land, work long hours and go places that machinery and people can't.

A dozen weed-munching special guests were invited to an Esquimalt park this week to help celebrate Earth Day.

“Goats love to chew on invasive plants like blackberries, ivy, Scotch broom and weeds — even more than grass,” said Beverly Ness, co-owner of the Parksville business Goats on the Hoof.

The goats were at Esquimalt’s Highrock Park on Wednesday and Thursday as part of a community effort to weed out invasive species and plant native trees. Plants such as broom, Himalayan blackberry, daphne, English ivy and holly threaten the park’s Garry oak ecosystem, the city said.

Mayor Barb Desjardins and drummers from Rockheights Middle School kicked off the cleanup Wednesday with a celebration.

On Thursday, the park was packed with young people, many from nearby schools and daycares, lending a hand.

“[The goats] spent six hours clearing out a good area,” Ness said. “They’re animals, so they chew for a bit and then lie down. They’ll work dusk to dawn.”

Ness’s goats have travelled all over the Island helping clean out invasive plants on properties, but this was their first trip to the Victoria area.

“It’s environmental, sustainable and it makes people happy to see them,” Ness said.