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Detroit Forces Hedge Fund Manager To Take Back His Goats

Mark Spitznagel, head of the $6 billion Universa Investments hedge fund, was forced by the city of Detroit to remove the 20 goats he had brought to graze in a blighted neighborhood. "The goats are gone."

Posted on June 9, 2014, at 3:20 p.m. ET


A hedge fund manager's plan to let goats graze in a blighted Detroit neighborhood has derailed after a city-imposed deadline to remove the animals passed on Monday at noon.

Mark Spitznagel, head of the $6 billion Universa Investments hedge fund, had brought 20 goats to Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood last week from his Northport, Mich., farm. The hedge fund manager's original plan was to bring up to 60 goats to Detroit to help cut down on the grass in overgrown, abandoned neighborhoods and promote urban farming.

A Michigan native, Spitznagel has invested millions in commercial real estate around Detroit. He hopes to use the goats, part of what he's dubbed the Idyll Farms Detroit project, in a variety of ways to help Detroit residents, including hiring unemployed community members to build housing and fencing for the goats, recruiting youths to herd them, and, at the end of the summer, Sptiznagel will sell the goats to local Detroit butchers.

The city, however, didn't take too kindly to the idea. Officials proposed today as a deadline for Spitznagel to either remove the goats or pay a fine of $500 for each one he brought to the city, which would have equated to $10,000 based on 20 goats. While that would appear to be pocket cash for the hedge fund manager, he appears to have elected to remove the goats rather than pay the fine.

"The goats are gone," a Detroit Animal Control Department employee told BuzzFeed today after the deadline, adding that no fine was imposed.

A spokesman for Spitznagel did not return a request for comment.