Four-Footed Firefighters

  • Firefighting goats went to work at PMLC on May 28.

    Firefighting goats went to work at PMLC on May 28.

‘Mountain Goats’ Love Fire Hazards

By Gary Meyer with Barry Ailetcher

When Kern County Firefighter Derrick Davis first heard of goat-herding to fight wildland fires, he took it as an opportunity to save lives and money. On May 28 a small herd of goats began working at Pine Mountain Learning Center to clear hazardous wildland brush around the school.

Davis began researching the idea last year. The Kern County Fire Department is now operating a livestock management program to raise goats to reduce hazardous fuels.

“We currently have 18 goats countywide,” Davis told The Mountain Enterprise on June 2, but more are needed. He hopes to develop a herd dedicated to the Mountain Communities. Davis is looking for sponsors to help get things rolling.

“For $150, [anyone] can adopt (sponsor) a live goat to be used to reduce hazardous vegetation…. Your $150 will go to purchasing, vaccinating, tagging and adding the goat to our current herd,” he wrote in a proposal to the Mt. Pinos Fire Safe Council. He hopes to see a herd of about 25 of the animals for this area.

KCFD Deputy Chief Heidi Dinkler told the PMLC class the goats clear brush on hillsides that would be too hard for human hand crews to clear. Before bringing the goats to the mountain, brush was taken down to the goats so they could get used to eating what grows up here. To clear brush, the goats roam within a fenced area and the hazardous fuel is consumed within a number of days, depending on the size of the area.

If you decide to sponsor a goat, you or “your group can come up with a name for your goat. You will receive periodic pictures of your goats at work, doing their part in pre-fire management,” according to Davis’ proposal. For more information call him at (661) 330-0358.

This isn’t the first time cloven-hooved gardeners have been used to keep hazardous vegetation at bay in the Mountain Communities. Read this story from May 2009 about Rocket and Treasure.

This is part of the June 04, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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