Goat

Goats and sheep are being used to clear Japanese knotweed in Somersworth.

SOMERSWORTH — Officials in the city aren’t kidding around anymore when it comes to large amounts of Japanese knotweed growing at a popular baseball field.

A group of nine goats and two sheep have been brought in to consume the invasive species at Noble Pines Park.

“We spent a significant amount of time and manpower to try and eradicate that knotweed on a regular basis,” City Manager Robert Belmore said Wednesday.

“I had seen a news media article somewhere saying that the city of Lebanon had hired them to try and control the poison ivy along some of their walking trails and we reached out to them. ... They were very upbeat and positive about the pilot program,” Belmore said.

Equipped with that information, Belmore made a deal for $750 with Loretta Pinkham and her partner, David Guion, of Andover, Vt., and this week the Green-eyed Gypsy Goat Grazing Caravan is camped out at the baseball field so the goats can clear the area.

Bill Craig, of Hill, a friend of Pinkham’s friends, was watching over the goats and sheep Wednesday afternoon while she was at a dentist appointment. He said that goats are in high demand for clearing land.

“Actually, she did mention to me this morning there are hundreds, literally hundreds, of jobs to do,” Craig said. “If you want cheap labor and a lot of work done, if you’ve got clearing to do, they’re the ones.”

Craig said the sheep are kind of shy, but the goats are friendly and hard workers.

Goats are being used more frequently by municipalities because they can traverse uneven terrain and are more environmentally friendly than power equipment.

Even in New York City, goats are being used to get rid of Japanese knotweed, wineberry, poison ivy, mugwort and English ivy. In May, 24 goats dubbed the “summer interns” were set loose at Riverside Park in Manhattan to take care of pesky weeds, to the delight of some of the people who lived in the neighborhood, according to news reports at the time.

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