There is the old saying that areas in decline are “going to the dogs.” It seems parts of Brooklyn, New York, are going to the goats — a small herd of goats, to be exact.
The caprine (the scientific term for goat) team is on a mission. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. If this goat gardener program proves successful, it will be extended to other areas of the state.
In Brooklyn Bridge Park, four Nubian goats are busy doing the job they were hired to do this summer: clearing the park of weeds.
Rebecca McMackin, Brooklyn Bridge park director of horticulture, says the four brothers are named Eyebrows, Hector, Horatio and Minnie.
"These are young goats, they're adolescents, and they are hungry all the time, so they were the perfect goats for this project," she said. "They select out the weeds from the grasses. They don't like the grasses as much as they like the weeds."
The goats are also naturally fertilizing the park, which was built as a buffer zone between the residential area and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
"We are an organic park,” she said, "so we don't use synthetic herbicides. So that wasn't an option. So goats were really the most logical and adorable and fun option for us, in reality."
There 'goats' the neighborhood
The goat option makes sense to many of the neighbors, including Jason Mullings.
"New York City in general has a huge lead problem, and there is a lot of pollution in the dirt," he said. "So finding a more natural way to get rid of waste is always a step in the right direction."
Christine Schehl, another Brooklyn resident, agrees.
"It's probably unusual, but it's nice," she said. "It's a good idea because they have this idea of being an eco-friendly surrounding, so it makes sense."
Each goat eats about 23 kilograms (50 pounds) of weeds daily, which makes them effective landscape managers.
Although it's tempting to feed them because they're so cute, residents are advised not to, so they can remain hungry enough to do their job.