Going Green? How about Going Goat?

Tammy King

Olivia King, Flash Reporter

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An unfortunate circumstance turned into an excellent opportunity. A plot for a senior prank turned into a new way to help the environment. Farmington Hills Police Department has adopted two goats that roam the area around the station and city hall offices, eating unwanted weeds and grass like grapevine and phragmites.

“A high school girl from Mercy High School in Farmington Hills bought the goat with the intention of letting it roam the hallways for her senior prank. Once she was caught and told to get rid of the goat, she walked across the street and tied the goat to a fence. After the goat was abandoned for several hours, a citizen called the police department to come and retrieve the goat,” Lt. Jeffrey King said.

The Oakland County Animal Control obtained custody of the goat while Lieutenant Bonnie Unruh, the detective in charge of the goat case, ran a press release to try and find the owner of the goat. When nothing was sent in, Mrs. Karen Mondora, Assistance to Director of Public Services, took charge and came up with an interesting, beneficial way to help the environment and benefit the goat.

“The goat program is a pilot program, which is why the goat was given the name Pilot. It was created to help with the big problems associated with overgrown invasive plants. These are plants that have no predators and are very difficult to control. Plants like grapevine and phragmites,” Karen Mondora said.

These plants, especially phragmites, call for a three year management program where you need to kill the roots of this plant, either with burning the plants or using herbicides that you have to be very diligent with. Goats are a smart choice for this project because they have chambered stomachs that are very good at processing and breaking down material. When they dispose of the plants they have eaten, the seeds do not regenerate, causing the population of phragmites to decrease.

During the warmer seasons, Pilot stays at the police station from around Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. and leaves around Friday afternoon.

“At the station we placed Pilot in pen that used to be an old dog pen and was converted into a suitable home,” Lt. Bonnie Unruh said.

Pilot was brought to the station in July, and as time went on, citizens began to complain that he was unstable and unhappy, mad even, because goats are herd animals and are not used to being alone. To help solve this situation, in September, Michigan State in Novi, donated a goat from their campus, Co-Pilot, in order to help Pilot live a more normal, happy life.

On weekends and during the colder months, Lynn Wilsher and Steve Olson, owners of a beautiful historical home and farm, house Pilot and Co-Pilot in order to make sure they stay warm, healthy, and associate with other livestock to broaden their social skills.

Along with Pilot and Co-Pilot, three other animals live on the farm: Moose, a very, very large and outgoing goat, Charlie, a very shy but adorable goat, and Goose, a very sassy goose that lost his mate two years ago and now enjoys keeping the goats under control by biting them when they do something that he does not like.

“These animals, goats more specifically, receive fresh water, a bucket everyday; the smaller goats receive goat feed made up of grain and molasses, hay, leaves, and grass. Because they have multiple chambered stomachs, hay is always a good choice for food. It is tougher in texture,” Steve Olson said.

When at the station, even though none of the police officers have the responsibility of taking care of Pilot and Co-Pilot, their best interest is always kept in mind.

“As long as we are doing right by the goats, I think that the goat program is a good program,” Lt. King said.

No one knows how long these goats will end up working at the station, and there are many different opinions on the benefits and negative effects of this program, but for now, these goats will continue to help the environment and show that an unfortunate circumstance can turn into something positive, in this case, a new, creative way to help the environment.

“We are starting small, it’s a pilot project or program. We wanted to see if using goats could save money on vegetation management and help the environment to manage chemical control,” Mondora said.

 

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