Goat in Irwin Park Gets Head Stuck in Fence

One of the goats at Irwin Park got its head stuck in a fence Sunday morning, prompting a passerby to phone authorities. 

Members of the New Canaan Fire Department responded to a call about the difficulty at about 9:31 a.m., according to dispatch records. According to Fire Capt. John Raidt, the goat in question—one of three brought in last summer to help rid the property of invasive plants—routinely gets its head stuck in the wire fence that forms a corral at the western end of the park. “That’s why they are not at the top of the food chain, but people do stupid things too,” Raidt said. By the time firefighters arrived, the goat had freed itself. “No special tools, no tactics,” Raidt said of the Fire Department’s rescue.

Letter: Stop Feeding the Goats at Irwin Park

Having walked our dogs in Irwin for a number of years it’s always a delight to see the annual return of the goats. These natural caretakers of the grounds who carry out a very useful task of controlling invasive ground cover are normally hard at work a task that they seem to enjoy. Posted on the side the fence meant to contain them are signs with interesting goat facts as well as clearly marked signs that say please do not feed or pet the goats. As we neared the end of the pen we came upon a family that had pulled a fair amount of branches and weeds from the trail and were feeding the goats while one of the children petted them. We stopped and I asked them not to do so as they were workers meant to do a job and for the enjoyment of all.

Parks Chief: Goats Pulled ‘A Little Bit Early’ from Irwin

Though the goats installed at Irwin Park did well in their first summer of chewing up invasive plants, the animals appear to have been pulled from their work just a little too soon, officials said. The five goats who arrived at Irwin in July under a town-approved contract went to work immediately on the invasives and especially Japanese Knotweed, which had grown so high it encroached on the Flexi-pave path at the western end of the park, officials said. “There is a lot of knotweed that came back, a lot of stuff was growing again,” Parks Superintendent John Howe said during the Oct. 16 meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission, held at Lapham Community Center. “I think they pulled them a little bit early.”

The Board of Selectmen in June approved a $10,200 contract with Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based Green Goats to have the goats work at Irwin this year, with funds provided by the New Canaan Garden Club.