Goat Firefighters: Can These Little Stinkers Help Prevent Bushfires?

Goats: For the most part they are total and utter menaces. Have you ever hung out with a goat on a farm and got an unsettled feeling? Like, if the goat had hands, it would stab you with a shiv and steal your wallet? Because I certainly have. 

However, despite being prejudiced against these everything-eating beasts, I can admit they can also be rather useful. For instance, the ABC has reported that the Rural Fire Service is using a trip of goats in NSW to get rid of a whack of overgrown grass. This is a boon because this vegetation is hazardous and could easily stoke a catastrophic fire in the fast-approaching summertime. 

But what makes goats better than a lawn mower? Well, these little gremlins can get in all of the nooks and crannies that neither a machine nor a human can get to. Moreover, they’re also creating a green barrier where the Rural Fire Service could prepare a defence if a gnarly blaze sprung up. 

This isn’t a new idea either. As per the Smithsonian Magazine, a couple named Bob and Brea McGrew have been using goats to manage Californian bushfire areas since 1991. “Goats are very intelligent,” stated Brea. “They’re trainable, like dogs. And they work together. They think. One will get up on her hind legs and pull a branch down for the others, and they’ll all browse together.”

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However, it’s worth noting that not all goats are up to the task. According to The Wall Street Journal, some of these critters can be excluded from Aussie-based vegetation reduction programs if they jump or dig under fences. 

Additionally, some people are concerned that these goats will damage farming vegetation. But Michael Blewitt, a goat producer, believes that this issue is easily solved. His goats are kept away from these sorts of areas with transportable wire enclosures. 

Blewitt reckons that the real challenge that these goats struggle with is their reputation as bastards. He explained, “There is a lot of ill-will towards goats, generally speaking.”

“They don’t have a great reputation in the rural community,” Blewitt also noted. “Which I must say, as a goat owner, is quite well-deserved.”

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