Goats Devour Climate Change One Shrub at a Time
If you’re driving along a sunny California highway and spot an unusually large herd of goats eagerly masticating someone’s otherwise well-kept property, don’t worry. It isn’t time to call these guys:
It’s actually a good sign that your area is doing its best to prevent damaging wildfires from spreading amidst California’s drought – naturally!
Before Urban Sprawl, wild grazing animals took care of eliminating the forest undergrowth, weeds and other brush that now go unchecked and contribute to today’s wildfires. Since wild grazing animals are few and far between, we need to turn to domesticated goats to provide the same service wild grazers did. Goats are one of the few, if not the only grazing animal that will consume noxious weeds, dead leaves and debris, and poisonous plants, leaving behind the desirable grass for other livestock.
So it’s clearly not a new discovery that our pastoral ungulate associates are ravenous for those dried out weeds and brush (even the poisonous ones) that fuel wildfires, but this season has seen a huge uptick in demand for firegoats. The California drought has prompted officials and landowners in the state to employ friendly four legged lawnmowers as an environmentally friendly way to clear brush, without the ignition hazard of a gasoline engine (at least not that we know of).
Goats to the rescue!
KTVU recently reported that “four hundred fifty goats can clear out about an acre of tinder dry brush a day.” Goat operators such as Bill Canaday generally employ herds of one thousand or more little eating machines. Even so, goats are still in extremely high demand in the parched southwest.
Canaday, who has 1500 goats deployed throughout California told KTVU, “I could keep another couple thousand working. Twice as many as I have.”
The armies of determined goats snacking on our fire fuel do have risks, however. Occasionally, they might escape their fences, or worse, even get stolen for meat, as KTVU reports.
That’s right, herds of hooved heroes are risking their lives (and possible indigestion) to clear fire hazards before they become fires. These are brave bovines indeed, although we have yet to receive confirmation as to whether or not they are allowed to slide down those awesome fire poles when called.
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