Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

A Canadian Forces base in Alberta is recruiting a new battalion of lean, mean, eating machines for a mission that will require limited action this summer.

The Department of National Defence has put out a tender for goats and sheep to graze on part of the base at 4 Wing Cold Lake.

“We did this in (CFB) Comox a few years ago and I have a feeling the idea kind of kicked off from that experience,” said Captain Mat Strong, public affairs officer for 1 Canadian Air Division based in Winnipeg.

“The reason we’re using goats is because the areas that need to be trimmed are in precarious locations such … where drainage ditches exist.”

The tender, which has now closed, said the base has areas that are difficult to maintain due to the degree of slope and accessibility.

“To get people in there with trimmers and stuff takes days, because they do it by hand. But you can just dump a bunch of goats in there and they can take care of it in no time,” Strong said.

The contract calls for a herd of 250 animals: 70 per cent goats and 30 per cent sheep.

Strong said it’s not something planned for other bases across the country.

Using goats for weed control isn’t new. It’s been around in Europe for centuries and the critters have been employed in Kamloops, B.C., and Regina to deal with invasive weeds.

The City of Calgary started to use goats to wipe out noxious weeds — most notably the Canada thistle — in a more environmentally friendly way at an urban park in 2016.

“We’ve got three different goat herds operating in the city right now. I would say it has been a success,” said Chris Manderson, who handles urban conservation for Calgary Parks.

Manderson said the newest area to get a goat herd next week is a steep bluff north of the Bow River downtown.

“Goats are a lot better at negotiating that hillside than people would be. A conventional approach would be guys out there with backpack sprayers.”

Strong said removing vegetation is a good way to keep down unwanted wildlife at the base where bears, moose and deer have wandered onto the runway.

The new recruits will only be used as needed, he said.

“It’s kind of like a snow removal or lawn care service you’d have for your house,” Strong said.

“They basically use them for a defined period of time. And if they’re not needed again for a week or two, they go away and then they come back.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Alberta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: One more death reported in central zone

Number of active cases has decreased by more than 200 since last week

Sylvan Lake proclaims first ever Pride Week

The proclamation for the week of Aug. 9-15 was submitted to the Town by the IMPACT Coalition

Sylvan Lake welcomes three new family doctors

The three doctors are practicing at the Sylvan Family Health Centre and are accepting new patients

Amid COVID-19: Some central Alberta parents want to see online learning option

Some parents will consider homeschooling if online learning isn’t available

Sylvan Lake beach crowded but people maintaining distance

‘A quick picture may give you the impression that everybody is crowded together’

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

Piscotty hits A’s 2nd walkoff slam this year, beats Rangers

Piscotty hits A’s 2nd walkoff slam this year, beats Rangers

McDavid gets first playoff hat trick, Oilers beat Chicago 6-3 in NHL qualifiers

McDavid gets first playoff hat trick, Oilers beat Chicago 6-3 in NHL qualifiers

Triumphant return for retooled Marlins, who beat Orioles 4-0

Triumphant return for retooled Marlins, who beat Orioles 4-0

Aho, Reimer help Hurricanes beat Rangers 4-1 for sweep

Aho, Reimer help Hurricanes beat Rangers 4-1 for sweep

Emerging young stars stand out at MLS tournament

Emerging young stars stand out at MLS tournament

Leafs solve Korpisalo, but lose Muzzin as Toronto evens series with Columbus 1-1

Leafs solve Korpisalo, but lose Muzzin as Toronto evens series with Columbus 1-1

Calgary Flames take 2-1 series lead with 6-2 win over Winnipeg Jets

Calgary Flames take 2-1 series lead with 6-2 win over Winnipeg Jets

Riley’s 3-run homer helps Fried, Braves beat Blue Jays 10-1

Riley’s 3-run homer helps Fried, Braves beat Blue Jays 10-1

Most Read