Gifford Pinchot State Park is using local goats to manage unwanted vegetation on its campground.

"A local farmer is bringing them in daily," said Bob Deffner, the park's manager. "She drops them off early in the morning and picks them up in the late afternoon, early evening."

Since Wednesday, four to five goats have been helping maintain the camping area by eating the park's unwanted vegetation, including poison ivy, honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet and multi-flora rose, Deffner said.

Unwanted plants have been thriving at the Warrington Township park, Deffner said.

Using goats saves park staff time and resources used to manage invasive plants. Also, the park can use fewer chemicals, like herbicides, on the plants, Deffner said.

Anna Keim, 2, left, and her sister Jillian, 4, of Newberry Township get a closer look at the goats at Gifford Pinchot State Park. The park is hosting the
Anna Keim, 2, left, and her sister Jillian, 4, of Newberry Township get a closer look at the goats at Gifford Pinchot State Park. The park is hosting the goats on spring weekdays to help thin out unwanted weeds in parts of the campground. The goats are brought in every morning and allowed to graze in a small fenced area and then taken back to a local farm every evening. (Bil Bowden photo)

"Goats like to eat the woody vegetation," he said. "They love to eat vines, high brush, brambles and weeds. And goat droppings add nutrients back to the soil."

Deffner said he got the goat idea from his sister, who has a farm in the western part of Pennsylvania. She uses goats to manage woody vegetation.

Deffner said he did research to learn more about the goat approach, and then decided to use the animals at Gifford Pinchot State Park.

The goats will be grazing at the park until late May or early June. They graze within metal fencing panels that can be moved to different park areas as needed, Deffner said.

The fences have signs explaining the park's goat program and instructs the public not to disturb, play with or feed the animals.

"The goats are here to do a job," he said. "They're working."

-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.