I am writing in response to the story “Have goats will travel” (Herald, Oct. 24).
I am a biologist/zoologist with a doctorate degree and more than 40 years of working with wildlife in Colorado and around the world.
The story suggests that goats will benefit the field near the hospital at Three Springs. This is far from correct as goats are the worst animals for overgrazing and the most destructive of any habitat. For more than 50 years, biologists and conservationists have recognized that goats have greatly contributed to destruction of natural habitats and farmland around the world.
Goats have turned dry habitats into deserts and lush habitats semi-arid and arid. Just look at the Middle East, North Africa, and many areas in Asia and South America as well as here in the Southwest.
Goats eat almost everything, including many weeds, and they often pull up many roots, destroying most vegetation. The idea that goats eliminate weeds by eating them is not entirely true. They do eat a lot of weeds, but in doing so, they transmit and fertilize most of the weed seeds. Goats may digest more weed seed than cattle or sheep, but they spread the rest.
Goat hooves carve and pulverize the ground. This exposes the ground to erosion by water and wind. The dust clouds at Three Springs demonstrate this. The pulverized soil will dry out faster in arid and semi-arid areas. It also destroys a community of microbes that help bind the surface of the soil to conserve what little moisture the soil contains.
The only way goats could have a positive affect on the Three Springs field is by running the herd over the land after appropriate seeds are spread. Then, they will help plant the seeds. It is hard to believe that people can be convinced to pay someone to damage their land with a herd of goats by claiming to recondition the land.