The City's newest employees — all 350 of them — are hard at work nibbling Kenna Cartwright Park clean of noxious weeds.
And because a herd of goats isn't an everyday sight in Kamloops, the hard-working herd is attracting some attention.
"This is really quite something for Kamloops," Sahali resident John Armstrong said Tuesday. "And it's a good idea."
Armstrong brought his two-year-old grandson Benjamin, who is visiting from Vancouver, to see the goats. He heard the City was using the animals as a pilot project to clear 33 hectares of weeds, specifically toadflax, from Kenna Cartwright.
He understands the goats are cheap to operate and believes using the animals to control weeds is a better option than spraying with pesticides.
The animals cost the City about $300 a hectare.
"It's good for the park itself," said Armstrong. "It's more natural."
On a personal level, he thinks it's a great opportunity for children like Benjamin to see such animals outside of a zoo.
"I've never even seen a herd like this," he said.
The herd browsed the grasses, shrubs and trees on the park's north side Tuesday morning under the watchful eye of three herders on horseback and seven dogs.
Conrad Lindblom owns the herd and oversees the operation. Sitting atop his horse with one watchful eye always on the animals munching nearby, he explained that goats are browsers, meaning they don't eat everything that crosses their path.
The goats prefer woody, leafed plants, not grass, which makes them ideal for projects like this, he said.
Lindblom and company arrived in Kamloops last week and set up camp near the old navy barracks.
The goats weren't put to work until Monday. Being that the herd is kept in northern Alberta, he said it took a couple of days to acclimatize the animals to the semi-arid environment.
Lindblom's cousin, Katie Morrison, will spend her summer herding goats for him. She said the job is great because it requires her to ride horseback and spend her days outside.
An average workday lasts five to eight hours, but that doesn't include care of the herd and horses when back at camp, said Morrison.
The trick is to keep the goats together as a herd, she said. When a straggler wanders off, a herder's job is to ride out and corral it back to the others.
"A lot of it is making sure the goats are in good shape and fat," said Morrison.
Karla Hoffman is the City's integrated pest management co-ordinator and one of the people responsible for bringing Lindblom and his goats to Kamloops. She said the goats are expected to cover about three hectares a day, which means the project should last about 10 days.
She walked through the areas where the goats fed and didn't notice much disturbance to the terrain. Had people or cows walked through, much of what the City wants preserved could have been trampled, said Hoffman.
"I'm glad it's working out," she said.
Cyclist Annemarie Watts rides her bike in the park all the time, but she's never seen a herd of goats before. She praised the City for trying something different that's environmentally friendly.
"I really don't like the use of pesticides," she said.
Kelly Johnston, the City's natural resources section leader, said the project will cost about $11,000. If it proves a success, goats could be used to control weeds in other municipal greenspaces.