By AP Aug 18, 2001
VAIL, Colo. (AP) — The “goats at work” signs along the bike paths of the nation’s busiest ski resort are no joke.
Goats have been hard at work in Vail, munching on noxious weeds and providing an environmentally friendly alternative to herbicides that have proven ineffective in wiping out the weeds.
“In terms of environmental stewardship, this is a far better approach than using pesticides,” Town Manager Bob McLaurin said.
Lani Lamming owns the herd of more than 600 goats, and she is also seeding the area with natural plants that will compete with the alien weeds. She says the natural weed-eaters work much better than chemicals.
“Humans depend on eyesight. By the time they see weeds, it is two years too late. The goats can sense them,” said Lamming, who has a master’s degree in weed science from Colorado State University. “And they’re better at vegetation management because there is no politics.”
Some residents and guests say they prefer animals over pesticides.
“They’re cool,” said Ann-Brit Hawkansson, 10, of Truckee, Calif., as she tried to persuade the shy goats to nibble on a carrot across the electric fence Lamming set up to keep them from wandering. It only carries a small charge, but enough to keep the goats in check.
Lamming’s Alpine, Wyo.-based company, Ewe4ic Ecological Services, has been in business for four years.
In addition to Colorado, she has also done work in Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah, charging $1 per goat for each day, plus the cost of shipping.
With the Agriculture Department estimating that weeds cost the economy $30 billion, there is plenty of demand for companies like Lemmings.
A company based near Sacramento, Calif., Goatweedeaters.com, has been in business for three years, renting South African Boer crossbreeds to get rid of weeds and reduce fire risk.