Urban Goat Stampedes Are Cool, but Their Environmental Benefits Are Cooler

The animals’ voracious appetite reduces wildfire risks in drought-stricken states naturally.
Jun 16, 2015·
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

A video showing 800-plus goats following a crossing guard’s directions is newsworthy in and of itself, but if you live in Berkeley, California, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

The scene shows the environmentally friendly path the city has taken to reduce its fire hazards.

The herd of goats came from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which uses the animals as part of its vegetation management plan. Goats eat just about anything, so they’re a perfect carbon-free way to remove dry brush and grass that can be starter fluid for wildfires.

So, Why Should You Care? In 1991, Berkeley Hills was ground zero of an urban wildlife fire that led to 72 hours of uncontrolled infernos that resulted in $1.5 billion in property damage, burned 3,500 homes, and left 25 dead.

Instead of turning to ground clearing and herbicides to control natural growth, the lab is using nature’s trash disposal service to manage potential fire hazards. Berkeley rents out the goats from a local company, Goats R Us, to mow the hillsides each year.

Over the next five or six weeks, the goats will munch on more than 100 acres of open space around the Lawrence Berkeley lab, located in the hills just above the University of California, Berkeley, campus.

They are led by a herder and sheepdog to keep them from wandering off the designated hillsides.