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Grazing Goats To Help Stop California Wildfires

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

It's a typically glorious California view: the Pacific Ocean sparkling under a bright blue sky, with miles of golden sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. But, today, there's now a good chance that a herd of goats will also be enjoying the multi-million dollar view whilst munching shrubs along the cliff tops, and elsewhere.

Goats grazing on shrubs

These aren't just any goats, though - they're California's new secret weapon in the fight against wildfires, and they're being put out to graze across the state.

"The reception is overwhelmingly positive wherever we go," says goat herder Michael Choi. "It's a win-win scenario as far as I can tell." Why? Because goats have insatiable appetites, and devour weeds, bushes, low hanging leaves, and dry brush - all of which are fuel for fires.

Choi runs Fire Grazers Inc, a family business which leases goats to city agencies, schools and private clients to clear brush from hillsides and terrain that's hard to access. The company has 700 goats, and they recently had to expand their herd to keep up with demand.

"I think as people get more aware of the idea, and environmental impact, they become more conscious about which methods they want to use for clearing weeds and protecting the landscape from fires. So, there's definitely a bigger demand, and it's a growing trend," he says.

"Goats are especially useful in places like California and the Mediterranean because of the shrubs - goats are very well equipped for that, they have the right mouths," says Karen Launchbaugh, an ecology professor at the University of Idaho who has conducted multiple studies on sheep, goat and cattle grazing. "They're just designed to eat shrubs."


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