Could goats be the answer to tackling Ireland’s illegal wildfire problem?
A recent article from Sky News, reported that the Portuguese government has hired a number of goat herds to help guard the rugged parts of the country against a repeat of last year's catastrophic wildfires. In a race against the clock, the goats will try and clean up as much scrubland as possible before temperatures rise, and the land becomes a tinderbox, Sky reported.
Forest blazes occur every year in Portugal. Last year 106 people were killed in what was by far the deadliest summer fire season on record in the country. The deployment of goats has been done for decades in the United States, especially in California and the Pacific Northwest, as a way of limiting the impact of fires.
Illegal, uncontrolled wildfires devastated the Irish countryside in 2017. Could goats be an alternative to the burning of scrubland here? Under Irish wildlife protection laws, the burning of vegetation is illegal from February 30th to August 31st. However, extreme and irresponsible gorse burning continues outside this permitted period.
Every year, the first dry spell of spring brings an outbreak of damaging wildfires across the country. Hundreds of wildfires were reported in the months of March and April last year. Millions of euro worth of damage was caused to a Coillte forest at Cloosh Valley in Co. Galway last year, despite a huge effort to control the blaze. While an illegal gorse fire in the Gougane Barra area of west Co. Cork last April was reported to have covered an estimated distance of over 4km.
Could Goats be the answer to our yearly problems?Photo credit: Houston Chronicle