It Finally Happened: A Herd of Goats Has Taken Up Residence in Prospect Park

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It’s not the first time livestock will roam one of our nation’s urban green spaces.

By Kate Wheeling


A goat and a kid grazing. (Photo: China Photos/Getty Images)

The woodlands of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park have been pummeled by hurricanes in recent years, like 2012’s “Superstorm Sandy,” which knocked down many trees and gave weeds and invasive plants a chance to lay down roots. But the steep hillsides in some areas of the park have hindered remediation efforts by park employees. Enter a pack of weed-eating goats.

This summer, eight goats will roam the steep hills in the northeastern section of the park, on loan from nearby farmers Ann and Larry Cihanek, the Guardianreports:

The Cihaneks run Green Goats from their farm in Rhinebeck, New York, which rents goats for weed control in steep or difficult to weed areas. Goats naturally like weeds such as poison ivy, and a single goat can eat up to 25 pounds of roughage a day, Cihanek says. The goats provide a chemical-free weed removal service with no negative environmental impact. The Cihaneks have a number of clients, and the best behaved goats get to weed the historic Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, New York, Cihanek says.

Historically, livestock in our nation’s urban parks are actually not such a strange sight.

In the 1930s, Prospect Park was home to a flock of sheep. Prior to that, the sheep had lived in New York City’s Central Park for more than 70 years, perhaps making the animals one of the first groups to leave Manhattan for Brooklyn.

“Many urban greenspaces have originated from traditional common grazing lands and amenities that were provided for and by the wealthy landowners for use by urban residents,” wrote environmental policy and planning professor Simin Davoudi in Justice and Fairness in the City.

In fact, our nation’s oldest park — the Boston Common — served primarily as a pasture when the city’s residents purchased the land from William Blackstone in 1634. Seventy cows resided on the park’s 48 acres back then, but by 1830 the city banned cows from the Common to give the city’s human residents more use of the urban green space.

Adorable goat sightings aren’t the only benefit of getting out into the pockets of nature in urban areas. Research shows that communing with nature can have positive effects on urbanites’ mental health.