Shimane: Weed-wolfing Goats Clean Up Disused Rail Line

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Goats feed on weeds near the former Iwamitsuga Station on the defunct JR Sanko Line in Misato, Shimane Prefecture.

MISATO, Shimane — A mountain-girdled community in Shimane Prefecture has unleashed a coterie of hungry goats to clean up weeds along an abandoned railway track.

The JR Sanko Line fell into disuse in the spring of 2018 and residents in the town of Misato — home to the majority of the rail line — had complained that the rapid spread of weeds along the route was spoiling the landscape and attracting wild boars.

Upon being commissioned by West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) to help strip the weeds around the now-defunct Iwamitsuga Station, the local community decided to employ ruminant power.

Subsequently, six goats — owned by the head of the local resident association — were set free along the tracks on July 23.

Though the railway tracks rest on crushed stones — a ballast that acts as a bed for the tracks — the sure-footed goats have no problem navigating around them.

The association plans to let the peckish bovids roam free until autumn.