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
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2042 GMT (0442 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1857 GMT (0257 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0621 GMT (1421 HKT)
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
ADVERTISEMENT