The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 6, 2013

Here, only goats can prevent airport fires

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Last month, officials at San Francisco International Airport hired a herd of part-time employees to toil on the west side of the property and engage in an unusual — but environmentally friendly — form of fire prevention.

Anyone looking down from a plane departing the airport may have wondered, What’s with the goats?

For two weeks in June, Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice and nearly 400 other goats chomped on the brush in a remote corner of the airport. The area needs to be cleared each spring to protect nearby homes from potential fires. But machines or humans can’t be used because two endangered species — the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog — live there.

It’s not exactly the type of job you advertise in the local classifieds. So, for the past five years officials have turned to Goats R Us, a small brush-removal company run by Terri Oyarzun, her husband Egon and their son Zephyr.

The airport paid $14,900 for the service this year.

The goats travel 30 miles each spring from their home in Orinda, Calif. to the airport in a 16-wheel truck that Oyarzun calls her “livestock limo.” They come with a goat herder and a Border Collie named Toddy Lynn. The goats spend two weeks cutting away a 20-foot firebreak on the west side of the airport.

“When passengers take off and fly over the goats, I’m sure that’s a thrill,” Oyarzun says.

Whatever the emotion, it isn’t reserved for air travelers. When Oyarzun’s goats aren’t clearing brush at the airport, they’re munching away on the side of California’s freeways, at state parks, under long-distance electric lines and anywhere else with overgrown vegetation. The family has about 4,000 total active goats on its payroll.

Text Only
AP National
  • Court critical of Ohio law punishing campaign lies WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court appears to be highly skeptical of laws that try to police false statements during political campaigns, raising doubts about the viability of such laws in more than 15 states. Justices expressed those concerns early

    April 23, 2014

  • Report on CIA interrogations shadows Gitmo trials WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate's forthcoming report on the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques could add to the legal complications facing the long-delayed U.S. military tribunals of terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The

    April 23, 2014

  • APNewsBreak: Clemency after 10 years in prison? WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will begin considering clemency applications from nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars, according t

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal. William Rousan's last words were, "My trials and tran

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage LAS VEGAS (AP) — As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger vot

    April 23, 2014

  • Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans WASHINGTON (AP) — Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Ameri

    April 21, 2014

  • Delay won't quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms. Fat chance. An indefinite ext

    April 21, 2014

  • After bombs, Boston Marathon under tight security BOSTON (AP) — A large police presence greeted runners and spectators filtering in Monday morning for the Boston Marathon, a year after a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

    April 21, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. WHO HAS HARSH WORDS FOR SOUTH KOREA FERRY CREW President Park Geun-hye says the captain and some crew members of the sunken ship committed "unf

    April 21, 2014

  • Kids get codeine in ER despite risks, guidelines CHICAGO (AP) — There's new evidence that the potent painkiller codeine is being given to hundreds of thousands of children in emergency rooms despite guidelines on limiting its use. That is the conclusion of a study based on an analysis of 10 years o

    April 21, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National