LONG ISLAND, New York -- Call them nature's lawn mowers: A herd of goats is helping to kill a weed problem on New York's Staten Island.
Nineteen goats on loan from an upstate farm have been on Staten Island chomping on the weeds known as phragmites for the last several weeks.
Landscape architect Andrew Deer says so far they are doing a great job. "The phragmites are starting to thin out. This time of year, phragmites is quite tall and large and you can see the goats are getting into it."
Parks supervisors are working to bring the area back to its natural state and cultivate native plants like grass and black needle rush. But phragmites prevent other plant life from growing. Right now they are a problem on much of the 2,2,00-acre site.
Because goats will eat nearly anything and have seemingly never-ending appetites, they are considered a good weapon in the war against the weeds.
Parks administrator Eloise Hirsh says that the goats are "eating the leaves off the stalks. And by eating the leaves off the stalks they are weakening the whole plant." That will clear the way to apply herbicide to attack the weeds at their roots. Workers will then loosen the stalks and pull them out.
Landscapers have been measuring the progress and keeping track of how well the goats are clearing the space. They are also looking into how useful goats are in keeping lawns trim.
Hirsh is excited about the project. "We can try stuff and we can demonstrate stuff about how you can ecologically transform something which was waste into an asset, and have lessons to tell the rest of the country and really the rest of the world."
The herd of goats is set to stay in the area until July 31st. Officials say they are already talking about using them for other projects in the future.