Durham County

Goats chow down in Durham park

Some kids are causing a commotion in a local Durham neighborhood.

They’re sleeping in a park, destroying vegetation and attracting a steady stream of lookie-loos.

“I saw one that looks like a dog,” said Lucas Harold, 3.

“There’s a lot of babies,” said Lucas’ twin sister Eva.

To be fair, they’re not all kids.

The goats — about 30 — at Indian Trail Park in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood appear to range in ages and were provided by Carrboro-based The Goat Squad. The city hired The Goat Squad to consume about an acre of bamboo, wisteria, poison ivy and other invasive species muddying up the the sight line of the park at 1701 Albany St. near the Hillandale Golf Course.

It appears to be the first time Durham Parks and Recreation has hired goats, said department spokeswoman Cynthia Booth.

“It’s more cost effective,” Booth said. “We wanted to try it and see how it worked for us. And it seems to be working very well.”

Tom Dawson, a Parks and Recreation assistant director, said the goats’ bill will be about $1,000, which is 10 times less than the other option of hiring contractors with equipment and people.

The clearing is part of a larger project to replace the outdated features at the aging Indian Trail Park. The more than $100,000 revamp includes new swinging, climbing and other features, including a modern version of a merry-go-round, and is expected to be completed at the end of May or early June.

When people come to meet the goats, they also learn about the park, Dawson said.

“We can talk about the greater park playground and pet goats,” Dawson said. “So, it’s perfect.”

The goats first clocked in on Thursday, but had to go home Friday due to the rain. Apparently, goats don’t eat as much in the rain. They returned on Sunday and were expected to finish clearing an acre by the end of Tuesday. After the project is complete, city officials will make a final evaluation of the experiment, Dawson said.

“I love that you just take a short walk from our house,” and you can see goats, said Christian Harold, 38, who stopped by with his twins Monday morning.

Joyce Robinson, who also lives nearby, stopped by with her 3-year-old son Thaddeus.

“They’re really cute,” she said. “And they come when you call them.”

Robinson, 39, then started calling the goats — “Here goats” — and they trotted her way.

“Their better than my kids,” she said.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges