Texas Hikers Share Video of Goats Eating Poison Ivy to Clear Trail

Experienced hikers know to keep their distance from poison ivy while out in the wild. While skin contact with the allergenic plant can cause ugly rashes in humans, poison ivy berries and leaves provide a feast for many animals in the forest.

That's what some hikers in Austin learned firsthand. An Instagram post from a local social media page showed what they found. "An army of goats is clearing poison ivy from the trails around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake,” the opening scene's caption read.

It went on to explain that it wasn't a random occurrence, but part of a plan to clear the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail for visitors. "For the next several weeks, the goats will be living in fenced-in areas along the trail and enjoying a belly full of invasive plants," it read over footage of the animals munching leaves.

Having animals eat invasive plants is among the most efficient ways to get rid of them when they take over an area. Herbicides, while commonly used, can be more harmful to the environment than the plants themselves. Some people combat the issue by bringing in native plant species to drive out the invasive ones. Because the goats get a meal out of clearing the poison ivy, it's a win-win for all those involved.

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The effort is being spearheaded by The Trail Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that maintains the trail. It was their idea to bring in animals to solve the invasive plant problem.

"It’s a really innovative and creative alternative to some of the other tactics we could use to eradicate poison ivy, like controlled burns, which affect air quality, or chemicals, which affect water quality in the lake,” The Trail Conservancy’s CEO Heidi Anderson said. "This is a really exciting opportunity to have these goats come in and be kind of a fun alternative."

If you're on the trial one day and happen to stumble upon the hungry maintenance crew, just leave them be and enjoy the cleared path.