Goats to rid shores of Lake Burley Griffin of noxious weeds

Goats are being employed by the National Capital Authority to help rid the shores of Lake Burley Griffin of noxious weeds.

A herd of about 30 tame South African Boer goats will clear an area at Acacia Inlet, on the northern side of the lake, of blackberry.

The trial could see the goats being used elsewhere in the capital, for both weed management and to help chomp down on bushfire hazards.

Herds for Hire, of Bega, is supplying the animals. Owner Elisabeth Larsen said in her six years in business, it was their first job in Canberra.

The same goats have previously been used to address an olive infestation at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

Goats are becoming more appealing to use as alternatives to traditional methods of weed management for a number of reasons, Ms Larsen said.

"In many situations, using goats to remove weeds is less expensive than mechanical removal or spraying," she said.

"The goats are happy to work in rocky terrain that is inaccessible for machines and unsafe for humans."

Ms Larsen said weed seeds are broken down in the gut of the goat so they don't spread, and because of the goat's "natural browsing habit" they can eat weeds that are poisonous or, in the case of blackberry thickets full of thorns, unpalatable to other animals.

Using goats avoids using chemicals for spraying, and a portable electric fence and constant supervision means the goats don't overgraze or escape from the subject area.

"The solution has overwhelming public support," Ms Larsen said.

"Wherever we go, people love having goats. They'd much rather have the goats then great big slashers or backburning."

Ms Larsen said it gives "very clever animals an interesting life".

"We're taking advantage of their natural talents," she said.

"I think of them more as colleagues. I depend on my goats to do the job that is expected of us, and I think they really enjoy their job."

National Capital Authority executive director of the National Capital Estate, Lachlan Wood, said goats were chosen for Acacia Inlet because of the challenging terrain.

"A blackberry infestation has made it difficult for contractors to tackle the weeds," Mr Wood said.

"The goats will help clear an inaccessible area of the shoreline, which will allow the NCA to reduce weeds in the area and then target the Alligator Weed that extends into the lake."

The goats will move in on Monday, weather depending, and stay in the area for about three weeks.

This story Goats to rid shores of Lake Burley Griffin of noxious weeds first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.