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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Goats in the Arb: Friendly to the ground and students

<ir="ltr">At the beginning of fall term, many students across campus were transfixed by the new invasive species management system being implemented in the woods near upper Arb: a herd of goats. Working their way across campus, the goats were here for much of the summer.

“They arrived on campus in early July and left near the end of September,” Jay Stadler, Carleton’s Grounds Manager, said. “Depending on the grazing requirements we ranged from 12-44 goats performing their duties at any one time.”

Goats are well known to be a cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative to traditional land clearing. Not only can these animals reach areas that are inaccessible to machinery, they also naturally fertilize the ground as they eat.

“Downside to the goats? Nope!” Stadler said.

Seen in different parts of land surrounding campus, the goats ate away at what is known as “common buckthorn,” an invasive plant that can choke out native plant and tree species. According to the company website for “Goat Dispatch,” the service that Carleton utilized, common buckthorn also contributes to erosion by shading out other plants that grow on the forest floor, and serves as host to other pests, such as crown rust fungus and soybean aphid. In addition to their practical purpose for the Grounds Department, the goats also provided a service to students.

“From conversations on campus, I got the feeling the goats were somehow a little therapeutic to some and fun to watch for others,” Stadler said. “We also had a pretty steady stream of Northfield community members who would bring their kids up to see what they were up to.”

With pictures of goats all over Facebook and Carleton’s televisions, it would seem as though the goats were a huge success. To the chagrin of many, these “therapeutic” goats have already left for the winter. However, it looks like they will be back in the spring to pick up where they left off. If you go to see them next year, the Grounds Department has some advice for you:

“Their favorite food seemed to be Cheez-It’s,” Stadler said. “But I know from watching others, they like to nibble on just about anything tasty you have to offer.”

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