DNR’s Newest Land Managers: Goats!

By Brenna DeNamur, Forest Health Outreach Specialist, Madison, Brenna.DeNamur@wisconsin.gov or (608) 335-0167

Don’t mind the bleating! Brule River State Forest (BRSF) staff recruited goats to manage forested areas overrun with invasive plants.

In May 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) partnered with Regenerative Ruminants to place goats in buckthorn-heavy portions of BRSF as part of an integrated pest management plan.

These goats eat woody invasive plants, such as buckthorn, that outcompete native vegetation and are detrimental to ecosystem health. Clearing out these harmful plants will allow the forest to regenerate.

Depending on the site, there are various ways to treat for invasive plants, and goat grazing is often an effective method for reducing herbicide use.

A baby goat stands among adult goats.

Baby goat at Brule River State Forest. Photo: Wisconsin DNR

Like other management methods, goat grazing is a long-term treatment. The goats have rotated throughout this site at BRSF a few times this summer and are now back for another round of grazing. Since the seeds of the invasive plants remain in the soil for several years, the area will be evaluated in following seasons to determine if goats or other treatment methods are needed.

When visiting parks and forests, be sure to wipe your shoes and clean your equipment before arrival and departure to avoid spreading harmful invasives like buckthorn. See the DNR website for more information on invasive species.

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