SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Some four-legged firefighters are working hard to prevent wildfires across Utah, this week working in Salt Lake City after a neighborhood was threatened last week by a blaze near the University of Utah.
Greg Cover owns 4 Leaf Ranch in Kamas and travels around Utah with his army of goats, who consumer vast quantities of dry brush and noxious weeds – thus, helping stave off any potential wildfire spread.
“They’re really, really smart and each one of them has a different personality,” Cover said. “They don’t talk back, they just get right to work.”
Yelling “Hey, hey hey hey hey!,” Cover calls some 80 female goats to him, and they obey. Every now and then, he says, some are stubborn. But his dogs and herders help him wrangle the whole group during a job.
These horned-helpers were requested in the Greater Avenues area above City Creek Canyon, after concerned homeowners witnessed the wildfire that broke out in early July above the Federal Heights neighborhood and near the University of Utah – an area which, during the summer, can be a tinderbox.
“It’s preventive. We are proactive,” said Cover, who said the goats’ grazing creates a fire line, and if a blaze does flare up it can be slowed down in the areas consumed by the goats.
The group of goats he used in the Greater Avenues this week were all females. He keeps the males and females separated while working, for obvious reasons.
He said the male goats are typically more rambunctious and can cause more damage to certain areas. The females, he says, are gentler and work better in residential areas. He also said there is little worry of re-seeding the area through goat droppings, because seeds the goats consume are completely dissolved in their systems.
“It’s not a perfect solution, it’s not a hundred percent guaranteed,” said Cover. He believes costs are minimal compared to the damage of a potential wildfire near your home. He charges about $1,000 to $1,500 per acre, but provides discounts during times of high demand.
During their rest hours, the goats are kept in a pen. This week they slept in a driveway.
He says his is the only licensed company to do this type of work in the state of Utah. For more information, click here.