Portland International Airport (PDX) recently welcomed a group of new employees known for their voracious, non-discerning appetite. Forty goats and a llama are helping solve a persistent problem at the airport: invasive plants such as blackberries, thistle and Scotch broom. Instead of using herbicides or removing the plants by hand, the airport enlisted the goats to eat the thorny plants (the llama keeps away predators like coyotes).
Hired through Portland-based Goat Power, the animals will munch diligently until they clear the area, which airport officials estimate will take about three weeks. The goats, who are kept from escaping by a portable, solar-powered electric fence, join other working animals at the airport, which include dogs that chase away geese and 29 bee hives that feed on native flowering plants.
PDX isn’t the only organization with goats. According to the Goat Power website, the grazers also help with landscaping at Google, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.