On the morning of 10 August, two goats working with the Goat Weeding Corps disappeared suddenly while on duty in Minokamo City, Gifu. The Goat Weeding Corps (GWC) is an elite team of 20 goats employed by the city to eat weeds in parks and woodlands. The managers of the GWC at Gifu University are treating this as a theft and have reported it to the police.

Shortly after the two goats vanished a search of the area yielded both of their collars lying on the ground leading their owners to assume foul play. This is the second incident of its kind in only a month. Previously a civilian goat went missing and was presumed taken. That animal’s whereabouts are still unknown.

A Minokamo City spokesperson made a statement to the media calling for “the healthy return of important partners in the ‘Satoyama Thousand Year Initiative’ which revives old woodlands and underused forests.” They also mentioned on their website that these goats were more than mere animals but valuable members of the community.

Indeed, when the GWC goats weren’t busy clearing the woodlands of overgrowth they could be found entertaining children at the “Contact Experience,” a popular attraction for kids to interact with animals.

The GWC started three years ago as an alternative to costly and potentially damaging herbicide use by the city. Since its inception, the project has grown and attracted the attention of other municipal governments.

▼ Sakura Square before, during, and after the Goat Weeding Corps’ arrival

It’s hard to imagine the type of criminal who would stoop to rustling goats, not to mention goats with impeccable records of service to their communities. Hopefully these thieves come to their senses and return the goats unharmed.

Source: City of Minokamo, Mainichi Shimbun (Japanese)