They Munch And Munch, Turning Tide On One Of Nature's Biggest Nuisances

SANDY HOOK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It is the season of outdoor adventures, but you have to be careful to avoid natural dangers like poison ivy.

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One place has found a novel way of eradicating the nuisance plant without using chemicals.

Grazing goats, yeah, that’s the ticket for getting rid of poison ivy — six acres of it.

“They basically eat everything green they can reach, especially poison ivy,” goat herder Larry Cihanek told CBS 2’s John Slattery on Wednesday.

Cihanek, a retired ad executive, is now in the goat business. Goats that have names like “Bones,” “Little Mal” and “Target” are set loose to target poison ivy.

“A goat eats about 20 percent of its body weight a day. I’m not sure how much that amounts to in leaves,” Cihanek said.

Cihanek and his little herd have been brought from upstate New York by the National Park Service to the site of Fort Hancock, near the tip of Sandy Hook on the New Jersey side of lower New York Harbor.

It was a strategic location of mortar batteries from the 1890s through the World War II, but it’s been invaded by poison ivy.

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“Oh, it should have been called ‘Poison Ivy National Monument.’ Yeah, it’s that bad,” U.S. Park Ranger Pete McCarthy said.

Knowing that the goats had already gobbled up greenery at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, McCarthy brought them to clear more paths for visitors.

“My maintenance staff is quite happy to not have to trample around in the poison ivy,” McCarthy said.

The current 11 goats, young kids, will soon greet an additional dozen, who will munch away through October, Slattery reported.

As we all know, goats are common attractions at petting zoos. But these kids, and what they’ve been in, petting them would not be a good idea.

The owner of the goats is being paid $12,000 for the seasonal eradication. The animals, obviously, are not allergic to the oil from poison ivy. Most of the human population is: about 85 percent.

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