While walking my dog at Frick Park this time of year, I often spot the herd of goats feasting on the park’s invasive plants. I’ve always been curious about these goats and where they go when they’re not at Frick Park. Luckily, the folks at Allegheny GoatScape agreed to give me a closer look.
Allegheny GoatScape Executive Director Gavin Deming, and Erin Gaughan, the nonprofit’s community engagement coordinator, met me near Frick Park’s Environmental Center and led us through a field of flowers and wooded hillsides to Clayton Hill, where the goats are currently stationed. Gavin and Erin turned off the electric fence and invited us into the “goat side” where we met Team Diamond, one of their four goat herds.
Each herd is named for a donkey chaperone who stays with them and keeps an eye out for any predators like coyotes. Though they’re wary of canines, the donkeys are very friendly to humans and Diamond was happy to get cozy with me as I offered a back scratch for most of our interview.
After spending just a few minutes with the herd, it was clear that each individual goat has its own distinct personality. Some were content to sit and chew their cud. Others were rambunctious as they headbutted each other. And one goat — Lucky Lou — was only interested in trying to nibble at our videographer Annie’s shorts.
If you want to see these goats for yourself (or volunteer to help), you can check out Allegheny GoatScape’s calendar to see where they’re browsing this week. They also are regularly along the Great Allegheny Passage in Homestead, in South Side Park, on the Penn State Greater Allegheny campus, at Carnegie Mellon University, and at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge.