Chilliwack puts goats on invasive plant duty

A trial on March 23 using goats to remove blackberries was deemed successful, so more work in Chilliwack with the goats is slated for May.

City of Chilliwack recently joined forces with the Fraser Valley Invasive Plant Council and University of the Fraser Valley to try out goats

City of Chilliwack recently joined forces with the Fraser Valley Invasive Plant Council and University of the Fraser Valley to try out goats

It’s a bold idea to save time, money and the environment by controlling invasive plants with hungry goats.

City of Chilliwack recently joined forces with the Fraser Valley Invasive Plant Council and University of the Fraser Valley to try out goats for “targeted grazing” on noxious plants such as Himalayan blackberries and Japanese knotweed.

The use of goats could become a new tool for communities like Chilliwack seeking ways to manage non-native plants known to have a deleterious effect on ecosystems, animals or humans, by choking out or competing with native plants.

“The goats seem to work on so many levels. The benefits include reducing herbicide use and mowers that can foul the air,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

“It’s such a gift, and we hope it leads to a template to be used by other communities as well.”

A one-day trial in Chilliwack was held on March 23, paid by the Invasive Plant Council, targeting Himalayan blackberries within a fenced in perimeter. The trial, using a contractor’s goats and herding dogs, was deemed successful, so more work in Chilliwack with the goats is slated for May.

Turns out goats are actually hardwired to browse and eat the weeds rather than grass, which is something being investigated at UFV’s Centre for Agricultural Excellence.

“Who knew that noxious weeds were so delicious, and preferable to grass?” the mayor added.

The goats’ digestive systems actually render the seeds of Himalayan blackberries non-viable, which is another plus.

The first trial site was at a storm water detention pond. The goats were actively managed by the contractor. They were unloaded and then corralled with a temporary fence to zero in on the blackberries and start munching.

The highly invasive and damaging Japanese knotweed found on city-owned rural land is next up on the list. They’ll be conducting a trial in May on a patch on the banks of a water course scheduled for some regular drainage maintenance.

Typically an excavator would do the ditch cleaning, passing over the knotweed and potentially getting fragments stuck in the tracks, and inadvertently carrying them to another site.

Japanese Knotweed has been popping up around Chilliwack for years, but they decided to try to manage it a couple of years ago. Mapping has begun for known sites and it’s been spotted in more than 225 locations.

City of Kamloops has successfully employed the same goat contractor in its parks, but Chilliwack is staying out of its park land for now, and concentrating on city property with invasive weeds, which would otherwise have to be managed by city staff.

The goats are also being eyed for removing wild chervil, tansy ragwort and giant hogweed.

Just Posted

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court. Labbee was convicted April 12 for the fatal hit-and-run of 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Sentencing hearing scheduled for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Crown will seek jail time for Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016

The latest data from the BC Centre for Disease Control. (BCCDC graphic)
Chilliwack COVID case count moving towards zero

From a high of 156 around Christmas, Chilliwack’s local health authority reported just 17 last week

Adam Hobbs went missing from a Langley work site on Monday, June 14 and may have gone to Vancouver. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Family, RCMP seek Abbotsford man missing from Langley job site

Adam Hobbs lives in Abbotsford and is a minor hockey referee

Chilliwack’s Nelson Gidney, winner of the 2021 President’s Award for the Army Cadet League of Canada (ACLC), British Columbia Branch Pacific Region. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack Army Cadet Nelson Gidney wins President’s Award

Gidney was recognized for demonstrating leadership, initiative, mentorship and dedication

Rohan arul-Pragasam, Chilliwack School District’s interim superintendent, has been appointed superintendent of schools effective June 15, 2021. (Chilliwack School District)
Interim position becomes permanent for Rohan Arul-pragasam at Chilliwack School District

Arul-pragasam said he was ‘humbled to continue as a steward’ in new role as superintendent of schools

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Athena and Venus, ready to ride. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Goggling double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to B.C. commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. casino workers laid off during pandemic launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed in Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo against Great Canadian Gaming

A Photo from Sept. 2020, when First Nations and wild salmon advocates took to the streets in Campbell River to protest against open-pen fish farms in B.C.’s waters. On Dec. 17, federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announced her decision to phase out 19 fish farms from Discovery Islands. Cermaq’s application to extend leases and transfer smolts was denied. (Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror)
Feds deny B.C.’s Discovery Island fish farm application to restock

Transfer of 1.5 million juvenile salmon, licence extension denied as farms phased out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

FILE – Nurse Iciar Bercian prepares a shot at a vaccine clinic for the homeless in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
B.C. scientists to study effectiveness of COVID vaccines in people with HIV

People living with HIV often require higher doses of other vaccines

A 50-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle Tuesday, June 15, crashing through a West Vancouver school fence that surrounds playing children. (West Vancouver Police)
Driver ticketed for speeding near B.C. school crashes into playground fence days later

‘It’s an absolute miracle that nobody was injured,’ says Const. Kevin Goodmurphy

Most Read