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Goat grazing to prevent fire blazing

​Goats have been grazing the City's river bottom to help with weed control this summer but now, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services have recruited some herd help to reduce the risk of wildfires. 

A goat grazing pilot project has been developed with the goal of minimizing the amount of highly flammable brush in the undeveloped grassland areas within city limits.

A $20,000 grant from Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA) will be used to fund the project which is now underway.

"We've had grass fires in the coulees before and we know that they spread quickly when the grass is high," says Heath Wright, Chief Fire Marshall with the Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services. "By using the goats to chew through this flammable grass and brush, we can really reduce the risk."

The goats are currently located in the coulees along Scenic Drive South in the Fleetwood and London Road areas and are expected to cover approximately 12 hectares of land. These areas were identified for the pilot because they are close to residential housing and have steep topography, making it more difficult for fire vehicles to access.

Residents are reminded to always keep their pets on leash to avoid any contact with the goats as they work.

Before deciding on the best locations for the goats, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry staff took vegetation samples for analysis. These will be looked at both pre and post grazing to help evaluate the effectiveness of the project.

One of the best ways to control wildfires is to control the amount of fuel available to feed the flames. Other methods of fire suppression such as prescribed burns and mowing are difficult, if not impossible in residential areas and on steep coulees. Goats can help prevent fires from becoming extremely dangerous by eating and trampling fire-prone vegetation such as wild prairie grass.

The use of goats for fire suppression is a fairly new concept in Alberta but has been used in other areas including California.

Media Contact:
Jeff Marriott, Fire Prevention
Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services, City of Lethbridge

Heath Wright, Chief Fire Marshall
Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services, City of Lethbridge