Goats Help Combat Buckthorn

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a special class of new land managers working at the Brule River State Forest: goats. Beginning in May, the DNR partnered with Regenerative Ruminants to place goats in portions of the forest that had been overrun with invasive buckthorn as part of its integrated pest-management plan.

The goats eat woody invasive plants, including buckthorn, that outcompete native vegetation and are detrimental to ecosystem health. Clearing out these harmful plants will allow the forest to regenerate.

Invasive plants, animals and pests are taking a toll on Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers and landscapes, so the DNR is working with the public and other partners to slow the spread of these species. Depending on the site, there are various ways to treat invasive plants, and using goat grazing as a long-term treatment is often an effective method for reducing herbicide use. The goats have rotated throughout the Brule River State Forest several times this summer and are now back for another round of grazing. 

Because the invasive plants’ seeds remain in the soil for several years, the DNR will evaluate the area in the future to determine whether the goats or other treatment methods are needed.