Forest fires have been combated by many different people with quite a few techniques, but there is another one trying to stop forest fires: an animal. Smokey the Bear is no longer the only animal working to prevent forest fires, for he now is joined by goats. Yes, forest fire fighting goats.
In Girona, Spain, there is a group of goats led by shepherds, who are helping in the Fire Flocks project. The Fire Flocks project is run by Surgi Nuss, a scientist, and the goal of the project is to prevent large forest fires in the area by ridding of fuel for that type of fire. The source that fuels the fires happen to be what goats and sheep eat: dead grass and brush. The goats eat all the vegetation between the ground and the trees, which helps forest fires stay lower and small which is easier for human firefighters to take care of.
The Fire Flocks project is also trying to help keep the job of shepherds alive. The life of a shepherd is a very simple life. It requires making sure goats are fed all the time and being outside year round. Shepherds also sell goat meat but that has been on a decline in demand and liking from people. The Fire Flocks project encourages butchers to sell more goat meat and products through the Fire Flocks brand. The butchers tell their customers about the project and people are quite happy to know about it.
The use of goats to help prevent or weaken forest fires has been used around the world, from Spain to California, US. The use of goats to prevent severe forest fires has been in effect since the 1990’s, and some herds of goats can in the thousands. Around April, when the rains stop, temperature begins dropping, and vegetation starts drying up, goats are set out to eat the brush and dead grass that is so good for fueling fires. Simthsonian.com says that “fires in the area have been better contained in places where goats have browsed.” Goats would rather eat the food that is near their eye level so they are just about perfect for this job.