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Weed-Munching Goats Have Arrived at Brooklyn Bridge Park

By Alexandra Leon | June 23, 2016 10:42am | Updated on June 24, 2016 8:44am
 Brooklyn Bridge Park gardener Abby Derick approaches the park's newest employees -- Horatio, Minnie, Eyebrows and Hector.
Brooklyn Bridge Park gardener Abby Derick approaches the park's newest employees -- Horatio, Minnie, Eyebrows and Hector.
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DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The goats have arrived at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

A herd of four Nubian goats — named Horatio, Eyebrows, Minnie and Hector — have begun munching on weeds at the Pier 3 uplands to clear the growth in an ecologically friendly way through the summer.

The four adolescent brothers work inside a fence during the day and sleep in a locked shed overnight. 

They’ll be overseen by Brooklyn Bridge Park staff, who will be tracking the goats' progress to see how long they'll be keeping their waterfront gig.

Since Monday, the goats have been clearing weeds along the sound-attenuating berm, or small hill, that blocks Pier 3 from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Park officials opted to use goats instead of synthetic herbicides or pesticides to maintain the landscaping along the berm so it can continue to function as a wildlife habitat.

The goats are also naturally adept to standing on a sharp incline, where the weeds are growing.

"We could have the gardeners run around and chop down all the weeds, which would be highly energy intensive, or we could have the goats, which are truly the most sustainable method of managing this landscape — and as a bonus are super fun and adorable," said Rebecca McMackin, the park's director of horticulture.

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Credit: DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

The goat weed-clearing program will be similar to those at other parks such as Prospect Park, Freshkills Park and Pelham Bay Park. 

This is a first for Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is renting the goats from Long Island-based Green Goats.

The park will evaluate the goats' progress after a two-week test period, Derick said. If they can effectively clear out the section of the berm that they're in in two weeks, they'll get access to the rest of the area, Derick said.

But to do the job right, the goats will need some help from their human friends at the park.

The park is asking visitors to let the goats munch in peace without trying to call their attention, and most importantly without feeding them.

"If people feed the goats food, they won't be as hungry as they possibly can be," Derick said.

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Credit: DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

The goats can eat a quarter of their weight a day in weeds, which adds up to about 50 pounds, according to Derick.

The goats will still be visible to park visitors. The best spot to catch them will be from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, since they sit on the top of the berm to chew their cud.