updated 8/12/2008 2:36:15 PM ET 2008-08-12T18:36:15

It was a report calculated to send chills through those charged with anti-terrorist vigilance in New York City: Bearded intruders secretly penetrate heavily guarded transportation site.

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But it turned out the would-be trespassers were goats imported by the National Park Service to clean up poison ivy and other unwanted weeds at historic Fort Wadsworth, a 200-year-old Revolutionary War rampart on Staten Island near the Verrazano Bridge.

Brian Feeney, a park service spokesman, said the goats are brought down yearly from a farm near Rhinebeck, New York, and escaped about two weeks ago.

According to officials, the dozen goats — or, as the Daily News described them, "weapons of grass destruction" — managed to slip under a metal fence separating the fort from bridge property, without setting off electronic alarms or sensors installed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to guard against intruders.

'No security breach'
In a statement, the MTA's Bridge and Tunnel Division said the fence was not actually part of the bridge protection system. Because the animals did not get past a second, more formidable fence, the agency said, "there was no security breach" affecting the bridge that spans New York harbor between Staten Island and Brooklyn.

The goats were spotted by a human bridge guard, rounded up and put back in their pen at Fort Wadsworth.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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