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Boston Goatscaping: goats to eat Hyde Park poison ivy

Four hungry goats-for-hire from a local goatscaping company are gearing up to mow down on some Hyde Park poison ivy.

The herd on Wednesday morning will be placed at the West Street Urban Wild in Hyde Park, where they will live eight weeks on a diet of poison ivy and other invasive plants.

Elaine Philbrick, co-founder of The Goatscaping Company in Plympton, said the green method of "goatscaping" is a safe and effective way to get rid of unwanted brush, including poison oak, poison sumac, bittersweet and Japanese knotweed.

"But Poison Ivy is the main reason people call," said Philbrick, who opened the company in 2012.

"Goats have been used historically on farms to keep the pasture clear," she said. "We had read about goats being used like this out west, and we thought, what a great idea."

The Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation brought the idea to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who was eager to give the goats a test-run.

"We have a lot of urban wild that we’re not able to get to. Some may be overgrown and look like an eyesore," said  Boston Parks Spokesman Ryan Woods. "The goats will eat everything, and that way we’re not putting our workers at risk by sending them in there."

Philbrick and her partner Jim Cormier have 55 goats, most of which are busy chomping on the invasive plants during the warmer months. The company has been booked by the Massachusetts Department of Recreation, and has also done over 50 private residential jobs.

The goats are contained by 4-foot high electric net fences that are powered by a solar battery. The service costs $600 per week in areas west of Boston, and $500 per week in the South Shore and Cape Cod.

The herd - which includes four goats - eats about a quarter acre per week.

But bystanders beware - Philbrick has warned that people should not pet the goats, as they may have poison ivy oils on their hair.

Philbrick said the company plans to offer service to the north shore starting next year.

Visit Gogreengoat.com for more information, or to book a clearing project.

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