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Good Job, Goats!

Across the United States, goats are gobbling up harmful invasive species.

Four goats eat vegetation with other goats in the background.

Theresa Hogue/Oregon State University (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Goats love to eat, and they’ll gobble up plants that many other animals won’t. That’s why people across the United States are putting goats to work. Their job is to help the environment by eating invasive species.

An invasive species is an animal or a plant that was brought to an area from another place and can harm the area’s other species, or native species. Invasive plants do harm by blocking sunlight from reaching native plants. This can cause all kinds of problems. Native plants begin to die. Animals are harmed, too, because they depend on these plants for food and shelter. Many animals won’t or can’t eat invasive plants.

In many parks and other public lands, workers are solving the problem by inviting goats over for dinner. The goats are rented from nearby farms for a few weeks or longer. They spend their time eating the invasive plants in the parks.

Luckily, goats have no problem eating many kinds of invasive plants. Their digestive systems are even tough enough to eat poison ivy! Goats do a better job clearing invasive plants than mowers, which often leave seeds behind. And unlike chemicals that are sometimes used to kill harmful plants, grazing goats aren’t bad for the planet.

One bonus of such programs is that parks are getting more visitors because the goats are adorable.

“They’ve been a big hit,” Debra Nowak of 1000 Islands Environmental Center in Wisconsin told USA Today. “People love to come see the goats.”

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Fun Fact

© Christopher Boswell/stock.adobe.com

The pupils of goats’ eyes are horizontal, meaning they’re shaped like wide rectangles. This allows them to see all around them—forward, to the left, to the right, and behind. Goats are prey animals. It’s important for them to see coyotes and other predators approaching from any direction.

Climbing Contest

Side by side of a mountain goat on a cliffside and a human climber using equipment on another cliffside.

© jaypetersen/stock.adobe.com, © Alxcrs/Dreamstime.com

Which one is the better climber, the mountain goat or the human? The answer might surprise you.

It’s the mountain goat! The mountain goat’s hooves are designed to give it a good grip as it makes its way up, and down, the steepest cliffs. Mountain goats climb to places where their predators, like wolves and cougars, can’t.

Goats can also climb trees! In the nation of Morocco, where the weather is very dry, goats climb trees because there’s not always much to eat on the ground.

Several goats in the branches of a tree.

© ellefitz/stock.adobe.com

Yes, some goats climb trees!

Check Me Out!

A white goat with a beard looks at the camera.

© Lena Andersson/Dreamstime.com

Did you know that most male goats have beards? You can learn more about goats at Britannica.

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Word of the Day

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Part of speech:

verb

Definition:

of an animal : to eat grass and other plants

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