California has unleashed an army of goats to munch away at overgrown brush and grass throughout the state in hopes of reducing the risk of wildfires this summer.
State agencies have deployed the animals to roam, eat, and wipe out highly flammable vegetation. Recently, in an area near Lake Oroville in Northern California, between 350 and 400 goats cleared nearly five acres of land. And on Sunday, 1,500 goats are scheduled to begin clearing 34 more acres in the area—by eating everything from invasive species to poison oak to thistle. The animals have also been contracted out to different cities around the state concerned about wildfires, including Anaheim, Oakland, and Los Angeles.
The initiative is part of the state’s “Fuel Load Management Plan,” started in 2012, which is aimed at reducing large patches of overgrowth throughout the state—a major source of fuel to wildfire spread.
Originally, the state used boots-on-the-ground crews of people armed with chainsaws and wood chippers to clear brush. But California has decided that in some areas, it’s goats, not humans, that can help the most.