To cut fire risk, San Francisco airport hires 400 goats

To protect endangered species living on airport property, officials turn to Goats R Us to clear brush and prevent airport fires.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor

Shrubs and small trees around airports could become fire hazards for nearby homes and should be removed every spring. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has an additional problem: they can’t use humans or machines for the job because two vulnerable critters live there. AP reports.

Populations of the endangered San Francisco garter snake and the threatened California red-legged frog have made airport land their home. That's why for the last five years, SFO has hired a herd from Goats R Us to clear brush in a remote corner of the airport.

After traveling 30 miles from their home in Orinda, California, Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice, and nearly 400 other goats spent two weeks in June cutting away a 20-foot firebreak on the west side of the airport.

"We're pleased with our organic process for weed abatement," airport spokesman Doug Yakel said. The airport paid $14,900 for the service this year.

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD) has requested bids for goats to clear brush in an out of the way area of a 7,000-acre property. They're expecting them sometime this summer.

Goats R Us has about 4,000 active goats on their payroll. These employees can also be found working away on the side of California freeways, at state parks, under long-distance electric lines, and anywhere else with overgrown vegetation. When they become too old to work, these goats are not sold for meat! Rather, they get to retire at the farm and visit schools and senior centers.

[AP via Businessweek]

Images: Goats R Us

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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