Canada thistle beware: Goats are on their way | SummitDaily.com
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Canada thistle beware: Goats are on their way

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – Five hundred weed-eating goats will descend on the county’s Canada thistle sometime between today and Tuesday, according to employees of the local weed control program.

The goats are part of a three-year county program initiated in 2001 to eradicate non-native weeds along the shore of Lake Dillon. Last summer, the animals grazed for two weeks from Giberson Bay to the Blue River inlet along the lake.

They are owned by Lani Lamming of Alpine, Wyo., who travels the country with her weed-consuming goats. She and the goats now are working in eastern Colorado near Limon. Their next stop is Summit County.

The county’s portion of the grazing will take about 10 days, according to the county’s weed control coordinator, Paul Schreiner. The goats will then graze on some Frisco parcels for another few days, all in all spending about two weeks in Summit County.

Passers-by are invited to stop by and have a look at the animals, Schreiner said.

“We think it’s real important for the public to get out there and take a look at what the goats are doing,” he said. “It gives us a chance to explain why they’re there. It’s kind of the warm-and-fuzzy side of weed control.

“I would say it’s probably not a petting zoo, and it’s not going to be very easy to pet them, especially with them inside an electric fence. But if you happen to have a real friendly one walk up to you, you might be able to scratch them between the ears without you getting shocked by the electric fence.”

The fence is designed to keep the goats contained to a specific area, but people need to be aware that the thin wire delivers intermittent shocks.

In addition to the fence, the goats are controlled by both human and canine herders. Aside from herding dogs, Schreiner said, canines are unwelcome.

“We don’t want to see any dogs around,” he said. “It’s not that we’re dog haters, but you just never know how a dog is going to react.”

Last year, the Summit County Board of Commissioners strengthened the county’s animal control ordinance to protect the goats from harassment by domestic pets. The resolution details fines and penalties for the unlawful presence of a pet in any area that has been posted. The resolution also gives animal control officers authority to take immediate action with any pet perceived as dangerous or potentially dangerous.

The county’s weed control program also includes tillage, biological releases such as weed-eating insects, fire and herbicides.

The grazing program is a joint effort of Summit County government and the Dillon Reservoir Recreation Committee, a multi-member group that manages issues in and around Dillon Reservoir. The total for those 10 days of goat grazing is $6,000.

The goats’ schedule:

? The goats will be unloaded and start their work at the Blue River Inlet to Dillon Reservoir, near the intersection of Highway 9 and Swan Mountain Road.

? They will then graze in the Meadow Creek area behind Summit Middle School off Summit Boulevard.

? Lastly, they will work near Giberson Bay along the Dillon Dam Road.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com


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