Invasive species get their goat

KISMA, ecological restoration company team up to control glossy buckthorn

Aidan Reilly/Daily Mining Gazette Goats bed down in the afternoon, Monday, July 12. Over the next two weeks the goats of Regenerative Ruminants will be helping Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area on a research project at Swedetown Trails


lossy buckthorn, a woody invasive species and its relatives, known for their tendency to spread in large swaths, have become a focus of invasive species management. They are also a snack for the omnivorous goat.

Regenerative Ruminants, an ecological restoration service, powered by goats and sheep, and Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area have joined forces to study glossy buckthorn management.

Dr. Sigrid Resh, Coordinator of KISMA and Research Assistant Professor at Michigan Technological University, has experimented with several management efforts in relation to buckthorn, including a method that utilized a native fungus to stymie the buckthorn’s growth.

Resh expressed her excitement at using goats in the project and noted that the use of browsing livestock has become more popular in managing invasive species.

The Swedetown project is interested in understanding the effectiveness of the goats and to compare their impact with other plots and management methods within the Swedetown trails.

Aidan Reilly/Daily Mining Gazette Goats dig into woody shrubs at Swedetown trails where they are tasked with providing baseline data on invasive species management in association with Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area.

Resh acknowledged the team of nine undergraduate students who were eager to test novel methods and technologies such as moth, insect and bird surveys, which can help quantify the impact of the goats, as well as understand the role of biodiversity in the area.

The team had embraced incorporating the animals and outside the box thinking, which Resh said was important to finding solutions to ecological problems, such as invasive species control.

Jake Williams of Poplar, Wis. is co-owner of Regenerative Ruminants with his partner Brigid Reina Williams.

Over the past several years the company has partnered with the Wisconsin DNR and private landowners in Northern Wisconsin using their mixed ‘flerd’ of sheep and goats to manage invasive species, such as buckthorn.

Williams and a team of 35 goats set up over the weekend at the trailheads across from the Swedetown chalet.

Aidan Reilly/Daily Mining Gazette Jake Williams, (gray hoodie) co-owner of Regenerative Ruminants answers questions about managing invasive species with goats.

Having cordoned off a half acre with an electric fence, the goats were off to work, biting leaves from the trees.

The team are set to browse through eight acres over the next two weeks.

For the next four years the goats will return seasonally while Resh and her team maintain surveys of the area to track the goats’ impact.

Everyone is welcome to visit with the goats and learn more about the project at a “Greet the goats” event July 15 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 2 to 4 p.m. when Williams and members of the research team will be on hand.

Aidan Reilly/Daily Mining Gazette Members of the KISMA research team greet the goats of Regenerative Ruminants Monday afternoon at Swedetown Trails.


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