Skip to main content

Chicago airport gets goats

By Aaron Cooper, CNN
May 11, 2013 -- Updated 1333 GMT (2133 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chicago's O'Hare Airport plans to use goats as landscapers
  • The herd will munch on 120 acres of foliage at the airport
  • Other airports have employed goats with mixed results

(CNN) -- Have you herd? Goats are now scheduled to land at Chicago's O'Hare Airport for a meal and some landscaping.

The city's aviation authority wasn't kidding Wednesday when they announced a two-year contract for "sustainable vegetation management grazing services" with Central Commissary Holdings.

Twenty-five to 30 of the four-legged creatures will chow down on 120 acres of foliage at the airport, including space along creeks and hilly areas too hard and expensive to maintain using other methods, a press release said.

To ensure the animals don't try to head butt a 747 they will be separated from the airfield by security fencing, remain supervised while on airport property, and spend evenings in a nearby transport trailer.

The curse of the Billy Goat may have haunted the Chicago Cubs for decades, but the airport believes embracing the animals will save money, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and cut down on toxic herbicides.

Sheep clear brush near Atlanta's airport

"This pilot program will help the CDA achieve many economic, operational, environmental and social benefits, achieving our goal of balancing people, planet and profit," Aviation Department Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino said in the release.

There's no word if the goats will help with World Series hopes.

The overall cost for two years of weed eating goats could reach $100,000, but the Chicago Department of Aviation is quick to point out it uses no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements.

Other airports have tried grazing goats with mixed results.

San Francisco airport uses a herd for two to three weeks each June to clear vegetation for a fire break on the west side of the airport.

"The benefits of the goats is this property is home to two endangered species, the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red Legged Frog," SFO Airport Duty Manager Doug Yakel told CNN.

"They can clear this vegetation for us without endangering these two species, where heavy machine or mowing might."

But Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport kicked the goats out after only a week in 2008.

"Airport managers decided to discontinue using the goats because they were, in effect, too effective," said Christina Faine, an airport spokeswoman. "Goats, indiscriminate eaters, eat everything, including the trees and native plants that we wanted to protect."

Chicago's goat herd is expected to arrive at O'Hare in about a month.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT