You heard that right: goats can help prevent wildfires.

a Sudanese goat
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

All that is needed for a wildfire is a source of ignition and brush/trees. One thing that can help mitigate the chances and or spread of wildfires is a "break" in the brush/trees. In most forested areas in the United States, you'll find natural or man-made "fire breaks", a strip of land that is kept plowed or cut short to keep it free from brush and other material that could serve as tinder.

Here's where the goats come in: in areas where goats are allowed to roam, wildfire chances are lowered because the goats eat all of the brush that could serve as tinder for the fire.

According to this story from the Smithsonian website, the intentional use of goats to lower the chance of wildfires has been happening since the early 1990s.

Three hundred and fifty of them can denude an acre a day, consuming low branches and foliage, stripping bark from French and Scotch broom and other shrubs, eating grass down to putting-green height. After such a meal, they are moved to another acre. -

According to the article, one of the added benefits of having the goats clearing the brush is that trash is exposed during the process (think hikers dropping water bottles/other refuse).  The story says that one and a half truckloads of trash were taken out of one of the areas in the first year of using the goats to clear the brush.

So, if you have wooded property with brush that could post a fire hazard, get yourself some sure-footed help!


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