California county to use goats to prevent wildfires - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

California county to use goats to prevent wildfires

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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (CNN) - Contra Costa County, California is turning to an old school method to help prevent wildfires: goats.

Doing what they do best, these goats are an invaluable tool in the fight to keep the East Bay fire-safe this summer, such as with flood protection.

They're also the objects of a three-year study that's nearing completion.

"We're looking at the effectiveness of goats vs. sheep vs. our traditional methods of mowing and using herbicides," said Mike Carlson of Contra Costa Flood Control.

He said the goats are more than carrying their weight.

"They do a wonderful job. And actually they're the best ambassadors for the flood control district and the county that we have. I think what we're going to find out is it's going to be a combination of both the traditional methods and kind of these old world methods of grazing."

These 200 goats are part of a much larger herd of 8,000. Based at a ranch in Orinda, Goat-R-Us has grown four-fold in the last 5 years.

"We're basically fire control. So when the grass gets real dry we bring the goats out. Our goats are out here to work, to keep the fires, or any kind of problems down," said another flood protection worker.

The only downside to using goats for grass and weed abatement so close to an important water supply is possible contamination. So far, the study shows the water here has not been compromised.

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