In 1842, Charles Dickens, at the age of 29, visited New York City and saw its trash management team in action:
….[H]alf-a-dozen gentlemen hogs have just now turned the corner,” wrote Dickens. “Here is a solitary swine lounging homeward by himself. He has only one ear, having parted with the other to vagrant-dogs in the course of his city rambles. . . . They are the city scavengers, these pigs.” – American Notes
Pigs were New York City’s first garbage collection service, prior to street cleaners or a real sanitation department. In fact, pigs roamed free in the streets of New York City until approximately 1849 when they were driven north — banished to areas north of 86th Street.
New York’s methods of trash disposal have progressed over time with technology. In fact, now most environmental cleanups involve the extensive use of machinery. However, in some places, animal cleanup crews are making a comeback — particularly in the fight against invasive plants.
The town of Southampton on Long Island recently allotted a budget of $3,500 for a project using goats corralled by a portable electric fence to eat autumn olive, an invasive shrub introduced to the United States in the 1830’s. (You can read the whole story here.)
Goats, in fact, are increasingly being employed around the country as a weed control tool without the noise and soot from mowers or the like.
Such moves seem utterly logical, efficient and environmentally sound. But there’s still opposition. Although Fort Hancock, N.J., has had success using goats for invasive species removal, some locals have resisted, contending that the animals will take away business from local landscapers who are equipped to do the same thing.
Visit PlantDontPlant.org to learn more about what you can do to stop the spread of invasive plants in New York State.