Goats Return To Towson University For Invasive Species Management


Renowned for their voracious appetite, goats naturally control invasive species. (Photo Credit: Lisa Frost/Patch)

TOWSON - Towson University isn't 'kidding' around when it comes to invasive species management - on Tuesday, the university invited a group of goats to the Glen Arboretum to snack on unwelcome plants.

Spanning 12 acres, the Glen Arboretum was generously dedicated to Towson University in 1936. This lush haven serves dual purposes: to provide an enriching educational experience for the community and to conserve plants native to the state of Maryland.

James Hull, the Arboretum's director, first invited goats from Harmony Church Farm in Darlington to the university in 2014 to control intrusive plants such as English ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, wineberry, and multiflora rose.

Renowned for their voracious appetite, goats naturally control these invasive species. According to Hull, it is nearly impossible to completely eradicate invasive species due to birds and other animals reintroducing them. Thus, the goat initiative has become a recurring, annual event for the arboretum's maintenance.

"The alternatives are you get mechanicals out here to dig up everything, which is disastrous in terms of erosion rates, or use chemical pesticides that run off and feed into Lake Roland," Hull said. "Those aren't viable."

Beyond their role in controlling unwanted vegetation, the goats have proven to be an unexpected boon for the university. Their presence not only raises awareness about the challenges faced by the arboretum but also attracts students, fostering a deeper connection with the natural world around them.

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