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Why Are There Goats Outside? Explaining California's Firefighting Goats

Why Are There Goats Outside? Explaining California's Firefighting Goats

To help with wildfire prevention, California has turned to an unlikely source. Here's why you might be seeing goats on the hillside Team


1 min read

August 30, 2023

In California, where sprawling urban areas are often juxtaposed with wild landscapes, the phenomenon of goats munching away on grassy hillsides or open fields may catch some by surprise. However, the sight of these goats is not the result of random farming or a zoo breakout. Rather, it's a part of the state’s innovative program to use goats to graze upon flammable brush. Here’s why you might see goats roaming freely in Californian landscapes and the benefits they offer.

Wildfire Prevention

California is no stranger to wildfires, which have been exacerbated by climate change and increasing pressures near forested areas. Traditional methods of fire prevention, such as controlled burns and manual clearing of brush are staples, but it’s always effective to diversify fire prevention efforts. That’s where the goats come in. Their natural tendency to graze makes them excellent at clearing large areas of grass, shrubs, and even small trees. By eating away this potential tinder, goats create a natural firebreak that can slow down or halt the spread of wildfires.

Goats provide an environmentally friendly alternative to herbicides and heavy machinery for clearing vegetation. Herbicides can be harmful to other plants, animals, and even water supplies. Mechanical methods, meanwhile, require the use of fossil fuels and can compact soil, affecting water absorption and fertility. Goats, on the other hand, remove the vegetation while also naturally fertilizing the soil, aiding in its aeration and improving its quality.

The financial argument for using goats in vegetation management is compelling. Training and maintaining a herd of goats for grazing is often less expensive than hiring crews to operate machinery or conduct controlled burns. The goats can be moved from site to site, efficiently munching their way through acres of land without the need for constant human intervention.

If you have the time snap a few pictures of these hard working goats.

Community Engagement

The goat grazing program isn’t just about fire prevention and environmental benefits; it has also become a community affair. Residents enjoy watching the goats at work and even take part in "Goat Watch" programs that educate the public on the importance of sustainable vegetation management. The state and cities can work with local workers to use these goats, providing job opportunities to California’s many farmers.

It’s an interesting program that can be seen all throughout California. It’s important for California to continue to fight against wildfires and this step is one of many meaningful ones that can help against the issue.

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