A goat-friendly Alexandria?

The city of Alexandria is considering making changes to its animal ordinances that would allow residents to keep goats or other animals that would eat invasive species such as buckthorn.

Right now, it's illegal for residents to house animals within the city limits other than dogs and cats. This includes "goats, cattle, horses, mules, sheep, swine, ponies, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, guinea hens and all other animals and feathered fowl," according to its animal housing ordinance.

On Tuesday night, the Alexandria City Council gave preliminary approval to an amendment that would change that. It would allow animals to be kept under a valid permit for "invasive species eradication or control."

The action was recommended by the city's legislative committee. City Planner Mike Weber provided newspaper articles that reported how cities are using goats to control noxious weeds. In Washington County near the Twin Cities, for example, a herd of 20 goats was allowed to graze on invasive plants at Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park.

image credits:  SierraClub  |  ModernFarmer

image credits: SierraClub | ModernFarmer

Weber told the council that the ordinance could allow animals other than goats to be used to control invasive species.

Weber said the city was contacted about a year ago from a landowner asking if goats could be used to eat the buckthorn on his property near a lake. The landowner said he obtained the proper permits to get rid of the buckthorn with a type of poison but it was not effective.

Council member Todd Jensen voted against the idea. He questioned the need for the ordinance change and said there should be more discussion.

Jensen said he was concerned that the change may give the public the wrong perception that people could keep goats as pets.

Council member Bob Kuhlman said that using goats to eliminate buckthorn was a better option that using poisonous treatments by lakes.

The next step will be for the city to establish a simple permitting process for the temporary and short-term use of such animals. Weber recommended a nominal fee of $25.

By Al Edenloff

Source, credits & more information: EchoPress