hi-bc-120212-goat-cp-01278769-4col

Using goats rather than chemicals to control invasive species is more environmentally friendly and about 30 per cent cheaper. (Canadian Press)

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation has a new weapon in its fight against invasive plant species — goats.

The province is piloting two projects in the B.C. Interior that will replace chemical poisons with herds of hungry goats.

Donna Olsen, the environmental services coordinator at the Ministry of Transportation, says the pilots at two gravel pits are proving successful.

"[There are] very visually stunning results," she said.

The goats actually prefer invasive species to the area's native grasses and they aren’t just greener than chemicals — the goats are also about 30 per cent cheaper.

"We'd really like to continue it and there's a lot of interest from other stakeholders," Olsen said.

'They're one of the best choices'

The animals are also used to control invasive species in the City of Kamloops.

"A lot of our areas are quite sensitive especially near water, where we can't even use chemicals there," said Karla Hoffman, the city’s pest management coordinator.

"So in most cases, they're one of the best choices."

Hoffman says the goats have been successful in tackling invasive species.

"They did help to bring the numbers of the plants down and therefore the amount of seed that would cause reproduction," said Karla Hoffman, the integrated pest management coordinator in Kamloops.

"Of course it's not a one-time process and we would need to put them back in there for subsequent years, just like we would for spraying, in order to get better control of the toadflax."

The province first used goats to control pests in 2012 and officials are in the process of gathering data on the treated plots to determine just how well the goats performed.