Water Buffalo help Delaware's Wildlife
Top, CBFO Biologist, Julie Slacum and water buffalo. Bottom, Craig Patterson, STEP Student, FWS Biolgists Rick Mccorkle and Julie Slacum with Oliver Twist and Artful Dodger. All photos, USFWS.
A pair of river water buffalo spent their summer grazing in a five-acre fenced area of the Freshwater Marsh Nature Preserve at Brandywine Creek State Park in Wilmington DE.
The buffalo, named Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger, are being used to help control invasive plants and improve the marsh. Buffalo, unlike cattle, are more tolerant of the wet conditions and will eat woody vegetation -- much like goats.
The buffalo will suppress invasive plants – especially reed canary grass - by both eating and crushing them since their weight will help break up the root mat. Their grazing will help Delaware’s native plants and animals, including rare species that are threatened by the invasive plants.
The project is a partnership among Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks and Recreation, which owns and manages the preserve, and Division of Fish and Wildlife, that will help monitor vegetation changes at the site, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office and Delaware Bay Estuary Project which provided funding to build the fence and lease the water buffalo.
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