Goats Will Graze All Summer in Riverside Park


The “Goatham” logo.

Riverside Park will get extra wild later this month, when a herd of goats arrive for a kind of summer internship.

The goats will be grazing on a weed-choked area of the park between 119th and 125th Street, according to  the Riverside Park Conservancy, which has dubbed the plan “Goatham”. They arrive May 21 and are expected to be here until August 30.

They’ll be snacking on invasive species like poison ivy and porcelain berry. And yes, they’ll have a fence around them so they don’t end up in your living room.

“The goats, who have all retired from former careers, are from a local farm,” the conservancy says on a webpage devoted to the program. “Since goats are naturally effective weed whackers, putting than to work in Goatham is like treating them to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s hearty for the goats and good for the environment.”

Retirees hard at work making the world a better place — they’ll fit right in here!

The conservancy also looks like it’s using the program as a fundraising opportunity, with a “Goat Fund Me” page (actually just their membership page). The goat residency is also sponsored by the Baylander ship and Verizon, but it’s not yet clear if the goats will be forced to periodically bleat “Can you hear me now?” as part of the Verizon deal.

ABSURDITY, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 50 comments | permalink
    1. Jen B says:

      This is awesome, and I can’t wait to see the goats. Is there any concern about all the dogs that run off leash in the morning in that area?

    2. Kay McFadden says:

      This is awesome. Where will the goats be kept at night? Is there a goatherd? Will s/he sing, Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo?

    3. Scott says:

      How will the parks department make this residency safe? Between the rodenticides they spread around and hoodlums who would like to harm defenseless animals, I don’t see this being a good deal for the goats. My guess is they’ll be bleating for a ride back upstate.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        This reminded me that there used to be actual sheep in the Sheep Meadow in Central Park.

        Apparently, during the Great Depression people started stealing them….to have for dinner! Hey, times were tough.

        I really hope this doesn’t happen here.:)

      • dbm says:

        Old goat shouting from his front door.” Get off my lawn you rotten kids.”

    4. Rob G. says:

      This is a 10+ on the Awesome Meter!

    5. Andrea Lois Becker says:

      I think it’s a win-win situation, and I hope to see the goats. However, I am worried about their safety. There are some people who seem to delight in hurting humans and animals. Will there be anyone watching over the goats? They should really be protected.

    6. Chris woo says:

      I LOVE this!!!!

    7. Downward Facing Goat says:

      This is fantastic! Will there slso be some goat yoga too, I’m hoping?

    8. Tomo says:

      This is great! I’ve already donated 100 bucks for the goats. Can’t wait to see them!

    9. Hi from Australia, Thanks to the ethernet, your goat use has reached me here in Tura Beach, NSW, Australia. My wife and I have been running our Herds for Hire business here for 8 years now, based on a model we learned from a goat wrangler from Seattle, WA. We have worked in Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory, and in the Mount Annan Royal Botanic Gardens on the outskirts of Sydney. We have found the goats to be very popular with the people who hire them. One family paid us to keep them around because their autistic daughter love them so much; Goat Therapy may soon be recommended as a treatment.
      All the best,
      Dr. Jimmy Shields

    10. Tim says:

      Their safety concerns me also. Hopefully there is something already in place to protect them.

      Can’t believe they are able to eat poison ivy. Fabulous.

    11. R says:

      Can’t wait to see the goats at work. Their website says they will be 119th to 125th streets. Such a great idea.

    12. Ilona says:

      How about a petting area where children can interact with the goats?

    13. Daniel Atha says:

      Great article. Thank you for highlighting the very serious ecological threat from invasive species.

      One clarification…. By definition an invasive species is an introduced organism that causes ecological, economic or human harm.

      Poison Ivy may cause severe irritation in humans, but it is an indigenous species that has very important ecological BENEFIT, not harm.

      At least 60 species of birds are known to eat Poison Ivy fruit, including Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Dark-eyed Junco, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, White-throated Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Tufted Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Carolina Wren, and Woodpeckers (Downy, Hairy, Pileated, and Red-bellied).

      The fruit ripen in late summer and early fall, just as the great bird migration gets underway. The fruit are high in protein and fat which the birds need to carry them great distances. Deer and other mammals also eat the fruit.

      Leaf Peepers might not notice, but some of the most spectacular fall color is produced by Poison Ivy–none of that sickly yellow produced by a very destructive invasive vine, Asian Bittersweet.

    14. Robin Rice says:

      Thrilled! I understand this has been advocated for years and years. Progress!

    15. Wil says:

      love it

    16. Jan says:

      I was amazed to know there used to be goats in Central Park once upon a time. I saw a vintage picture of goats pulling a pedi cab!

    17. Leon says:

      It says that they “have all retired from former careers.” What were those careers? Hedge fund traders? NYC Schools Chancellor? Internet message board commentor?

      Also, if they need a place to sleep at night, there are plenty of empty storefronts in the neighborhood.

      • dannyboy says:

        The goats worked on a local farm (you must know about farm animals). According to the article, one of the things they do is whack weeds.

        And no, they won’t sleep in “empty storefronts in the neighborhood.” Only man’s inhumanity to his fellows allows that.

    18. Michelle says:

      I’m not happy about this at all. These poor goats spend their whole lives on farms until they are no longer producing & are then shipped out to work eating weeds. Animals are not here to work for us. I’m disappointed to hear about this. I’d rather we leave the weeds & poison ivy as is.

      • Dorian says:

        As a granddaughter of famers on both sides, I can assure you that this is goat heaven–not work.

      • Susan Wolfe says:

        I really don’t understand. These goats are basically rescued goats, and they get to do what they were born to do. Are you saying that domestic farm animals should be set free and have to fend for themselves? Too many centuries of domesticated farm animals have gone by for that. What we can do is to treat them with love and respect. By bringing these animals into the community, they are providing humane education and getting people to stop seeing farm animals as meat.

        • dannyboy says:

          I’m a 50 year vegetarian just back from India, where Vegetarian is not a special diet!

    19. dannyboy says:

      What is the term for a female goat?

      a – Maid
      b – Nurse
      c – Buckette
      d – Nanny

    20. Lisa says:

      Echoing the comments of others, I too worry about the safety of the goats. I really hope this plan has been thoroughly thought through.

    21. Terry says:

      Goats were used successfully in Prospect Park to clear poison ivy and invasive plants in 2016 and 2017.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/nyregion/prospect-park-goats-then-shrubbery.html

    22. BJ Giges says:

      How will the goats be protected at all times?

    23. Howard says:

      Great idea, but will they be watched over by anyone. Will they sleep out at night, or go into shelter. It is a ‘public bathroom’ for the homeless, and gets pretty stinky during the summer. But the kids and adults will love it, especially the nearby tennis players. By the way how many in the herd…

    24. Thanks for the heads up. I will definitely go to visit them. I love goats. RS

    25. Ladybug says:

      Can my Sheltie apply as a herding volunteer in case the goats get out of line? It would certainly be safer than trying to herd bike, cars and trucks!

    26. Dorian says:

      I am just, plain delighted. Actually have wondered for a while why this has not been done. Effective and great fun to watch. Hell, better than pigeons!

    27. charlie says:

      IF the goats suffer any distress from the poison ivy they can always ask for some caaaaaaaaaalamine lotion.

    28. jill says:

      What could possibly go wrong?

      • dannyboy says:

        To start with, The geographic reference on riversideparknyc.org/goatham/ is wrong.

        From the website: “On Tuesday, May 21st Riverside Park Conservancy is bringing a herd of goats to Gotham, to create Goatham – a hard-to-access area in the northern part of the Park.”

        But, but folks, it’s midway in the park. Only the most parochial UWSer thinks that’s “the northern part of the Park”. The Park ends at 158 Street (I lived up that neighborhood in the early 70’s).

        • Larry Yataes says:

          The area they’re talking about (119th-125th) is north of the tennis courts, rather wild. Much of it is also steep, climbing up to Riverside Drive. Not many people or dogs go there. The goats will love it.

    29. Tammy Wise says:

      Can’t wait to meet the little critters! Welcome to NYC!!

    30. Esther C. says:

      Totes Ma-Goats!

    31. Judith says:

      Sounds like a great idea in theory. I hate to sound suspicious, but is anyone else fearful that the area could be “laced” with rat or other poisons?

    32. mcurran540 says:

      I spent a long time living in Berkeley, California. One of the highlights of the summer was always the appearance of a herd of goats who grazed the dry grass on a hillside overlooking a large park. They were there to reduce fire danger, but they were also a source of great pleasure. The goatherds lived in trailers inside the enclosed goat area. I don’t remember a single incident of people attempting to do them harm (or of their attempting to harm people!)

    33. Go10024 says:

      Is anyone else worried about the recent sightings of coyotes in the area? In addition to rodent poison and people, I’m also worried about their safety.

    34. Zimmerman Al says:

      Wonderful. I have to goat see them!

      • dannyboy says:

        I’m catching on to the Goat Humor.

        I received this email: You can GOAT see them on Tuesday, May 21 at 11 AM.

        Attire: Haute Goature

    35. Goldine Eismann says:

      This story really got my goat. I lived a block from Riverside Park for decades and brought my dogs on long walks and also roller bladed up to the Goathem area. Great idea

    36. CF says:

      What is the plan to protect the goats from being stolen or harmed during the day or overnight. They are extremely vulnerable. West Side Rag – please can you report on this.