The great goat escape: Family finds 100+ goats grazing in Brainerd backyard

Brainerd police said the call came in at 9:12 p.m. of an animal complaint on Birchridge Drive of 100 goats in a resident's backyard.

A herd of 100-plus goats graze in a Brainerd backyard
A herd of 100-plus goats graze in Cheri Drake's backyard Saturday, July 30, 2022, after they escaped from a fenced area at Rotary Park in south Brainerd. The goats are at the park to eat invasive buckthorn.
Contributed / Cheri Drake

BRAINERD — Some days kids play tricks on their parents, and other days there are actually 100 goats in the backyard.

That statement rang true for south Brainerd resident Cheri Drake on Saturday, July 30, when her son-in-law Matt Winterer looked out the back window at about 9 p.m. and saw the yard filled with goats of all sizes.

“It was kind of like, we could hear a bell and, ‘Oh, I wonder what that is,’” Drake said. “Matt, her (daughter Ashley Winterer’s) husband, got up and looked out the picture window and goes, ‘You have 100 goats in your yard.’ And I went, ‘Oh, yeah, right.’ Then we walked over there and sure enough, there were 100 goats.”

Drake said the herd walked around her backyard grazing on the grass. She was not surprised as she knew goats were being used to clear invasive buckthorn in nearby Rotary Park.

Goats munch on area foliage.
Goats, seen here in their Rotary Park enclosure enclosure Sunday, July 31, 2022, made an escape into a Brainerd neighborhood the previous evening. The goats were hired to eat invasive buckthorn in the Brainerd Park
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“My daughter Ashley called 911 and got the dispatcher,” Drake said. “The dispatcher really thought she was just kidding. And she goes, ‘Well, some of the goats are white, some are black, some are black and white. Some are brown, brown and white. There's little goats, and there's big goats and there's a couple of baby goats, there's a pregnant goat.’ And by this time, the dispatcher is laughing.”


Cheri Drake talks, the backyard in the background.
Cheri Drake talks Sunday, July 31, 2022, about finding an escaped herd of goats in her backyard the previous evening.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd Police Sgt. Paul Dooley said the call came in at 9:12 p.m. of an animal complaint on the 100 block of Birchridge Drive and an officer went to check on the situation.

Drake said when the first officer arrived, they walked to the backyard and said, “Oh, my goodness.”

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“They went down there and called us on the radio and said there’s seriously 100 goats in this backyard,” Dooley said. “So we called animal control and his first answer was, ‘I don't deal with goats.’ So we all went down there, we found them and then figured out roughly the area through the woods where this fence was.”

Police investigate a fence while responding to a call of a herd of goats in someone's backyard
Police search for a break in the fence Saturday, July 30, 2022, at Rotary Park in Brainerd while responding to a call of a herd of goats in a nearby backyard. The goats were penned in at the park to eat invasive buckthorn.
Contributed / Bob Sherman

With the help of some of Drake’s neighbors, Dooley said they eventually found where the goats came through the electrified fence, a few hundred yards down a path to the park. Dooley said it did not appear to be working properly as they opened it back up to get the goats back in without getting shocked.

Drake's neighbor Bob Sherman, who helped officers find the path to the park, said they learned how to corral and herd goats on the fly Saturday night.

With four other officers, Dooley said they started to try and move the herd in one direction, but they ended up doing circles around the shed in Drake’s yard.

While the goats ran circles around the yard, Dooley found the creatures would follow the leader. The officers hatched a plan with a Crow Wing County sheriff’s deputy.

“We got part of the fence down and then we just did like an old-fashioned deer drive and got them pushed back into their pen,” Dooley said. “I don't know anything about goats. I'm a city guy. I didn't know anything about them until last night. So goats bleating and their little bells clanging and we're all laughing because, it was by far, one of the funniest calls I've ever been on.”


The law enforcement officers were able to get the goats through the woods and back in the enclosure after about 40 minutes on the scene.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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