from News Tribune, Tacoma, WA Whatcom Land Trust unleashes goats on blackberry infestation DANIEL JOHNSON THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Goat chomps into a blackberry leaf at Whatcom Land Trust's Kelsey Preserve northwest of Ferndale on Thursday afternoon, August 6, 2009. The Whatcom Land Trust hired Healing Hooves, owned by Craig Madsen of Edwall, Wash., to remove the overgrowth of blackberry bushes. Madsen estimates that a 150-pound goat can eat 6 to 7 pounds of vegetation a day. ISABELLE DILLS; THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Published: 08/10/09 6:52 pm | Updated: 08/10/09 7:32 pm When Whatcom Land Trust stewards needed help with a blackberry infestation on Kelsey Preserve, they didn't turn to herbicides or hire people to chop them out.They brought in a real team of plant-elimination experts: goats.Two hundred and forty goats descended on Kelsey Preserve on Monday, Aug. 3. The goats were from Healing Hooves - a natural vegetation management company located about 40 miles west of Spokane in Edwall. They ate away at the berries, leaves and canes for five days, said Craig Madsen, owner of Healing Hooves.The goats don't mind the thorns that grow on blackberry bushes. The only parts they tend not to like are the thick canes that are tough to eat, Madsen said. The blackberry infestation, which had grown six to eight feet high, covered about three acres of the preserve's 20 acres, said Steve Walker, property steward from the Whatcom Land Trust. The goats aren't able to eliminate the infestation, but they help control it, Madsen said. First, the goats flatten the area, and then people can remove the roots. Anyone - even private land owners - can hire Healing Hooves to remove vegetation or control weeds. This was the first time the Whatcom Land Trust used the goats. "Blackberries are a non-native species and we're trying to manage the land in its natural condition," Walker said. The Kelsey Preserve was donated to the Whatcom Land Trust in 1992.