Goats as ‘Lawn Mowers’ at Chicago Airport

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George Rose / Getty Images

A goat wandering the property at Puma Springs Vineyard strikes a regal pose on April 1, 2013, near Healdsburg, California.

Touching down at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, airplane passengers can expect to be greeted by more than just the city’s famed skyline bordering Lake Michigan. Next month, the city plans to install a herd of goats at O’Hare Airport as a part of a pilot program for vegetation management, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chicago’s Department of Aviation announced Wednesday its new eco-friendly alternative to maintain upkeep on airport property, citing the herd of goats will cut costs and reduce the use of lawn mower fuel and toxic herbicides. The goats, as well as a shepherd to lead them, are expected to arrive at O’Hare in one month, roaming 120 acres with the target of clearing an estimated 250 square feet of greenery per day.

According to Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino, the goats will be used for difficult hilly areas (which are far and few in the plain state of Illinois), rocky terrain and roadways covered with thick brush. The city plans to keep the goats in a fenced area separate from runways and shelter them at night in a trailer or tent structure.

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The city awarded the contract for O’Hare’s newest employees to Central Commissary Holdings LLC, the operator of Butcher & The Burger, a restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Butcher & The Burger partner Joseph Allen said his staff is excited about the idea of enlisting their goats for a city project. “We raise our own hogs and chickens, and bought these goats on a whim a while ago, not thinking a goat burger wouldn’t be on the menu,” Arnold told the Tribune. “When (the city) put the bid out, we thought it was a really cool local, sustainable idea. We’re all from Chicago, and this is the type of thing we’re all about.” He called the goats “the perfect lawn mowers” for the airport grounds.

This isn’t the first time Chicago has employed wildlife. In 2010 the city gained media attention for its Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project, which tracked 60 coyotes as they patrolled the streets of Chicago to help resolve a rodent problem.

When temperatures drop during the fall, the goats will be transported to the northern suburb of Barrington Hills, where they currently reside at a farm, only to return to O’Hare in the spring to finish out the contract which runs through the end of next year, CBS reports.

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