It’s that time of year again – the goats are returning to Issaquah Highlands! Every summer, goats are employed in our community as an eco-friendly way to control vegetation growth in steep slope areas. This year, the goats arrive on July 8, avoiding the disturbance of Fourth of July.
Shepherd Craig Madsen and his more than 120 goats from Healing Hooves Natural Vegetation Management have worked in Issaquah Highlands for the last 14 years. Over the years, the goats have escaped for various reasons, including fireworks, predators, and vandalism. But as some of you may remember, last year was a little different.
Not every HOA director is happy to make local, national, and international news, but I admit I laughed when I saw our goats on “Good Morning America,” CNN, and BBC World News last summer. No one plans for 250 goats to break free from their fences and stroll through the neighborhood. Craig expressed his heartfelt apologies and his gratitude to the IHCA staff and homeowners who banded together to round up the goats and get them safely secured, thus ending the “Great Goat Escape of 2019.” We are thankful the goats were not harmed and there was no major damage or injuries. Thank you to everyone for helping to keep a vigilant eye on the herd while they are in the community this summer.
Gigi, an Australian wolf hound, will also return to Issaquah Highlands this summer to keep an extra close eye on the goats. As a livestock guardian dog, Gigi protects the herd and wards off any potential predators or strangers. Nessie, a border collie and herding dog, may also be on site to assist Craig. Treat the working dogs like any other service dogs. Ask Craig’s permission before approaching them.
Every year, the community enjoys visiting the goats and watching them work. It’s important to remember that these special visitors depend on us for their safety. For your and the goats’ safety, please follow these rules while visiting the goats this summer:
- Do not feed the goats.
- Do not approach the working dogs without permission.
- Leave your own dogs at home.
- Stay back from the electric fencing.
In addition to not feeding the goats, please do not unintentionally feed them by dumping material into the natural areas behind and between houses. Even plants dumped in our open spaces can be harmful to the goats. Rhododendrons, azaleas, and many other plants are poisonous to goats.
Treat the electric netting that defines the goats work area with respect. It has enough kick to get your attention. The goats have enough sense to avoid it; so, should you, your children, and your pets.
In case of emergency, contact the shepherd Craig directly by phone/text at 509-990-7132.
Be safe out there everyone and take some time to go enjoy the goats – just no dogs, please.