Goats considered for dandelion control in Calgary

The city is considering using grazing animals as an alternative to herbicides or mowing to control invasive species.

City looking for alternatives to spraying and mowing invasive species

One of the proposals for dandelion and invasive species management in Calgary involves hiring an army of four-legged dandelion-destroyers. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

Dandelion control has been a hot topic in Calgary this year.

Things heated up back in June, when council asked for a report on how to manage the yellow flower which is taking over city parks, green spaces and boulevards. 

Because not only are dandelions unsightly...they're dangerous. At least, according to Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu.

"Dandelions — I don't know if you've ever touched them or broken them, [but they] actually have lots of liquid in them. So kids playing in any field, it's dangerous. You can slip," Chu told the Calgary Eyeopener last month.

  • Listen to Coun. Sean Chu's interview with the Calgary Eyeopener
Should the city spend nearly $2-million to curb dandelions in Calgary? We hear from Coun.Sean Chu in advance of today's council meeting. 5:47

The city is looking at alternatives to spraying or mowing invasive species and one idea that's being considered is — goats.

"They would be targeting weeds, but I'm sure they wouldn't turn their nose up at a dandelion," said Chris Manderson, an Urban Conservation Lead at the City of Calgary.

Cities like Kamloops are already using goats to graze away unwanted vegetation and Fort Saskatchewan has been using sheep to keep their grass trim since 1992. 

Sheep have been keeping city grass trim in Fort Saskatchewan since 1992. (Tim Wimborne/Reuters)

But there are many details that need to be ironed out before we could bring the four-legged dandelion destroyers inside city limits.

"Obviously there are rules about keeping livestock in the city — they apply to parks just as much as they do to a homeowner. Then there's logistics ... how do you get goats to work in the morning? It's a little bit more complicated in Calgary than out in the country," said Manderson.

He and his team will come back to council in about a year with a more fleshed-out proposal for the goats. 

In the meantime, the city will use the $1.7 million it approved on Monday to do some additional mowing around town next summer. The one-time funding injection will come out of a fiscal stability reserve fund and not property taxes.

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