The mystery of the Coyner Springs Park goats … solved

Sightings of goats in Coyner Springs Park have led to several phone calls to the Waynesboro Department of Parks and Recreation in recent days.

No, it’s not a herd that has gotten loose and taken over the park. It’s actually a program to test the feasibility of using goats for invasive species management in the park, said Spencer Thompson, the special events and programs coordinator for the parks and rec department.

Autumn Olive, a particularly aggressive invasive species, is threatening to overtake the back field of the park, Thompson said. A designated 10-12 acre area has been fenced (electric) for the confinement of the goats.

“The premise is the goats will forage on the autumn olive, poison ivy, and other non-grass brush and bushes and stress the plants to the point where they will no longer flourish, creating an environment for native plants to thrive,” Thompson said.

The goats have two companion dogs in the fenced area that protect the goats from predators but do not pose a risk of leaving the fenced area or harassing dogs in the walking park.

The project is a joint effort of the city and Autumn Olive Farms and will be ongoing for two to four weeks or until the first heavy frost that causes plants in the park to die out for the season, Thompson said.

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