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US town hopes herd of goats will protect against wildfires
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US town hopes herd of goats will protect against wildfires
An Oregon town has recruited a herd of goats to head off the risk of another wildfire. According to the latest estimate, more than 938,000 acres of land were destroyed by the blazes which swept through the state in the north-west of the US. Forest City, a town with around 25,000 inhabitants 25 miles west of Portland, is taking drastic measures to ensure it does not suffer the same fate as other parts of the state. The 230 goats are set to start work this week, chomping through the vegetation in a 14-acre grove which has been earmarked for use as a city park. They have been hired from a company called Healing Hooves, based in Washington State which rents out its goats to landowners in the region. Renting the goats costs around $800 (£489) a day, not counting the costs of transportation. The animals are corralled by an electric fence. The goats are marshalled by Craig Madsen, who has been going the work for more than 18 years. As fires raged across California and Oregon, Donald Trump said poor land management by local authorities was to blame for the spread of the flames. Ecologists believe removing excess vegetation, especially near power lines and timber, is one way of minimising the risk of a catastrophic wildfire. Mr Madsen believes his herd of goats can clear an acre of brush in about a day and a half. The terrain at Forest City is ideal for his team. “Some of the grove backs onto people’s yards. It’s pretty steep, but goats don’t mind fences and slopes,” Mr Madsen told the Telegraph. “They chew up the undergrowth and if its a fire that is creeping slowly they create a fire break. “The ideal terrain for them is somewhere they have to climb. Their hooves grow fast so rocks can help trim them. “They are pretty agile and they are great for this kind of terrain. Goats have their preferences. They like to browse and prefer blackberries, brush and broad-leaved plants. “People say that goats will eat anything, but actually they are pretty picky.”
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