This week the Hamptons Police received a small number of calls from area homeowners complaining of goats trespassing on their property.
“We started getting calls on Friday, but at first we thought people were pranking us,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says. “By the fourth complaint, though, we figured this was real.”
Hamptons Police officers responded to the calls and confirmed the presence of goats in seven different locations. “According to our officers, the goats seemed to be engaged in lawn maintenance,” Hirsch says. “These weren’t your average goats—they were definitely trained for this.”
Hirsch says officers observed the goats perform tasks like munching grass down to a uniform height, eating weeds out of flowerbeds while leaving the flowers intact, and forming pyramids in order to eat tall hedges back into shape.
“They were doing everything you’d expect a landscaper to do, but there were no machines involved,” he explains. “The only sound was the sound of quiet munching and an occasional ‘bleat’.”
According to Hirsch, while officers were observing one group of goats at an estate on Ocean Road in Bridgehampton, a truck pulling a livestock trailer drove up. The trailer was empty, but a sign on the door of the truck said “Billy’s Goats Lawn Services.”
“A young guy got out of the truck,” Hirsch says, “and he calls the goats. Then all of the goats come walking over and they file onto the guy’s trailer. While police were watching, the guy fed each of the goats a carrot and then proceeded to walk around the estate. He seemed to be inspecting the goats’ work.”
When the man came back to the truck, police took the opportunity to question him.
“His name is Billy Sutton,” Hirsch says. “It turns out he’s just started a business using trained goats to take care of people’s lawns and gardens. To get the word out, he figured it would be good publicity if he just surreptitiously turned the goats loose on several properties and let them do their thing. And I’d have to say he might be right. I was certainly impressed.”
The law is the law, however, and Hirsch says police were forced to issue a ticket to Sutton for allowing his goats to run loose on someone else’s land.
“We didn’t want to do it, but he was clearly in violation,” Hirsch says. “We advised him that in the future he must have homeowners’ permission to have his goats on their lawns. But I don’t think he’ll have any trouble with that. Believe me, once people have seen what these goats can do, they’re going to want them there.”