Cows combat invasive species on north metro wildlife refuge

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Managers at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge have found a new way to preserve the refuge's habitats, ranging from wetlands to oak savanna.

The 30,000-acre refuge in Zimmerman is being threatened by invasive species, such as thick American Hazel, which can spread quickly, leaving little space for natural vegetation to grow.

As WCCO reports, moving cows onto the refuge to eat undesirable plants is proving to be an effective solution. The animal's sharp hooves also massage the grass floor and makes room for other plants to develop.

The St. Cloud Times says the other effective solution to combat the invading plants are costly controlled burns, which can run $3,000 to $5,000 per fire. And funding is hard to come by following deep cuts from sequestration.

The newspaper says this tactic costs taxpayers nothing and the 250-head herd that started grazing segments of the refuge in May are making major progress.
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