- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - The city of Las Cruces is once again using goats to keep public property free of weeds and vegetation.

About 70 goats are munching across the 2.5-mile Las Cruces Flood Control Dam, which is a popular recreation area for hikers and bird watchers, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported (https://bit.ly/1XJt3Gj). The goats arrived May 20 and will remain through the end of June.

In addition to the goats, three alpacas travel with the herd to help protect them from coyotes.

Leo Valles, weed and flood supervisor for the city of Las Cruces Streets and Traffic Operations Department, said the goats are currently under a trial period and fenced off in an area at the south end of the dam.

“They’re eating the (weeds and vegetation) growth on the west side of the dam,” Valles said. “They’re being kept in a certain location, and we will test to determine the quality of what they’re doing.”

The goats have been used before to clear vegetation in areas that are not easily accessible by crews with equipment. The goats also save the city money, Streets and Traffic Operations Department Administrator Willie Roman said. When they were first used in 2012, the goats cost $250 compared with $700 for human labor.

Roman said visitors to the area should not try to touch, pet or feed the goats or alpacas, a sentiment seconded by Chloe Dutton, 7.

“I thought the alpacas were pretty cool, but my mom wasn’t following the rules by feeding the alpacas dead grass,” said the girl, who visited the animals - but didn’t feed them - on Friday. “The alpacas aren’t here to have fun; they’re here to protect the goats. The goats might get eaten by coyotes, ‘cause they’re smaller than the coyotes.”

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Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, https://www.lcsun-news.com

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