Goats Join the Fight Against Wildfire

Deployed to consume hazardous brush

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The San Francisco International Airport was facing a problem. They needed to clear a large section of dry brush at the edge of the facility to protect nearby homes from fires. Unfortunately, two endangered species, the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog, inhabit the brush, ruling out any mechanical or chemical methods of maintenance.

So they brought in the goats. Hundreds of them.

For the past five years, the airport has enlisted the services of Goats R Us, an environmentally friendly vegetation management company run by Terri Oyarzun, her husband, Egon, and over 400 hungry goats. Each spring, the goats travel 30 miles from their home in Orinda, California in a 16-wheel truck called the “Livestock Limo,” and spend two weeks cutting a 20-foot firebreak around the airport. The facility pays $14,900 for the service.

Oyarzun’s goats have also been deployed at state freeways, parks, and under long-distance power lines. The family has about 4,000 active goats available for hire. When they become too old to work, the goats are allowed to retire peacefully at the family farm rather than be sold for meat.

Smokey the Bear would be proud.

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