The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be experimenting with a new method of clearing some thick vines and shrubs in an area of northeast Iowa that’s a popular destination for anglers, hikers, and bird watchers.
The Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area covers 40 acres in Clayton County. There’s dense vegetation in one area that’s especially difficult to manage because of the rough terrain, so the DNR plans to experiment with a herd of goats.
DNR Fisheries Supervisor Mike Steuck says the animals will graze a 7-acre patch between July and September. “The goats can get up and down virtually anything,” Steuck says. “That’s why they’re called goat prairies, because they only thing that can get there is a goat.”
Steuck believes it’s the first time the Iowa DNR has used goats for clearing vegetation. He says renting the goat herd is likely cheaper than fueling and maintaining heavy mowing equipment and it’s certainly more environmentally-friendly than using chemical herbicides.