Herds Help Keep Fires Under Control

These goats are assisting firefighters, one bite at a time.

A goat eating leaves in the forest

(Vojislav Niciforovic / Shutterstock)

Local authorities and firefighters in the United States are always on the lookout for new and creative methods to help keep wildfires under control. Especially during the hot and dry summer months, thousands of wildfires ravage through forests every year. The city of West Sacramento in North California has found a creative secret weapon to help combat this phenomenon, reports The Week. The secret weapon, believe it or not, is goats!

In their wake, the dangerous fires claim human casualties, destroy millions of acres of land and cause severe damage to surrounding communities. By thinking out of the box, The decision to enlist the help of goats to help with fire prevention has proven to be a success.

These friendly animals have been assisting the city with wildfire prevention and fire hazard risks by eating the weeds, dry grass and dead trees. When the goats eat the things that are likely to catch fire, they nip the problem in the bud - literally!

Spreading like wildfire
Wildfires can occur naturally, when dry plants are ignited by the sun’s heat and catch on fire. However, explains CNR News, most wildfires are caused by human negligence and carelessness, including arson, unattended campfires, cigarettes and other flammable objects. The best strategy to combat the fires and minimize the damage is to attempt to eliminate the fuel that enables the spread of the flames, in this case the dry weeds, trees and plants. If the things that are most likely to catch fire are gone, the fire is less likely to spread.

The benefits of this unlikely partnership
The loveable goats are able to reach difficult areas that lawnmowers would not be able to access. This is an incredibly environmentally friendly solution on many levels, and super effective as well. Firefighters and government officials could not be happier with the results. West Sacramento Public information officer, Paul Hosely, told CBS News that about 400 of these goats can clear two acres per day. They even fertilize the area, a natural and free side effect of eating all those dry plants. 

Although this endeavor is costly, it has paid off. Reducing fire risks and hazards has been an investment. A few weeks ago, says Fox KTVU, a fire near the Oakland Zoo spread quickly. Fire breaks made by the goats helped to stop it from growing and expanding further, and kept the people in the area and their property safe. 

"For us, it was a proven example that the combination of fuels management along with the quick fire response, is an effective method of keeping our neighbors safe from catastrophic wildfire," Assistant Fire Chief Khari Helae told Fox KTVU, adding "It’s an investment in making sure we’re doing our part," said Helae. "With climate change and the fact that our vegetation is being affected from climate change, it’s necessary to ramp up our fuel reduction program."

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