Oregon is trying a furry approach to firefighting: goats

 edition.cnn.com  09/19/2020 01:50:21 

Forest Grove, a city 25 miles east of Portland, is using a herd of 230 vegetation-eating goats as a tool to thin undergrowth on undeveloped city owned property, urban forest and park property.

"The goats are efficient, fast and cheaper than manual labor," said Forest Grove Park Supervisor Matt Baum.

The livestock arrived for their most recent duty in Forest Grove on Monday and are working to clear almost 14 acres by next Tuesday. Their service cost $800 a day along with tucking and mobilization costs.

Healing Hooves shepherd Craig Madsen has a special interest in using goats for vegetation removal. With more than 25 years of experience in range management, he takes his goats all over the northwest to service cities and private landowners seeking fire or weed control, vegetation removal or consulting.

Once arriving at the site, Madsen lets the goats out of his trailer and guides them with an electric fence to undergrowth that needs thinning out.

The goats don't mind working on steep slopes.

Madsen says the goats work in areas that are more challenging for manual laborers to reach.

"They work in areas that are difficult to do," said Madsen. "Steepness of slope or some other reasons where it's hard to get equipment into -- the goats come in and they don't mind climbing slopes."

As for the goats, they aren't all business. Their curious and playful personalities make them relaxing to watch and serve as an educational tool for inquisitive onlookers, Madsen said.

"It's amazing to see 230 goats," Baum said. "They are like a machine."

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