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NBK Bangor Uses Goats for Weed Control

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100420-08

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Dagendesh, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Det., Northwest

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- In recognition of Earth Day, Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) utilized a herd of goats as an eco-friendly method of invasive vegetation control in Bangor, Wash., April 15-23.

According to Chief Master-At-Arms Amanda Cooper, NBK Bangor's force protection operations officer and Earth Day 2010 event coordinator, this is the second year NBK has utilized the goats to remove noxious weeds and shrubs without using heavy machinery or chemicals.

More than 60 goats ate their way through a variety of plants, including blackberry bushes and Scotch Broom.

Tammy Dunakin, chief goat wrangler for Rent-A-Ruminant, LLC, said the goats provide an environmentally friendly solution to weed problems.

"My goats eat the brush in a very natural green way," said Dunakin. "The base is really committed to be as green as they can. The goats have been pretty successful getting the job done."

Using the goats as weed control may take a few rounds to knock out and kill the brush, but because the goats have an acidic environment within the inside of their rumen (stomach), they kill off a lot of the weed seed so it can't reproduce, said Dunakin.

"It's really neat how all that comes into play because the goats eat the flowers, which means the seed pod gets eaten and nothing will bloom," said Dunakin. "It's really enjoyable coming out here, and I really am glad to see the Navy do things in an environmentally friendly way."

When asked about the Navy's use of goats, Cooper said it was cost effective, safe and environmentally friendly.

"I think it's a great way to save on resources," said Cooper. "They are put on this earth to do certain things. It would be great if a lot of other bases would hire some goats to knock down the weeds. It's a lot cheaper on weed control than lawn mowers and chemicals."

Cooper also said it's a good outreach program and is a great way to give back to the earth instead of using chemicals.

"It's fun to get the community involved in Earth Day and how to save the earth," said Cooper. "We are so used to getting a weed whacker or some chemicals. This is just another reminder for people that there are better ways to be earth mindful."

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