Flying Goats

A PILOT program is being undertaken at O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, but it doesn’t involve a two-legged individual who sits at the controls of jets landing there.

This program involves a being with a beard and four legs.

The Chicago Tribune reports the city’s Department of Aviation has awarded a contract to the operator of Lincoln Park restaurant Butcher & The Burger “to bring about 25 goats onto airport property, helping the airport launch its vegetation-management program.”

Although this is new for O’Hare, it isn’t a pilot program in the nation. Airports in San Francisco and Atlanta already use goats to clear some acreage,

Goats are used for two to three weeks each June at the west side of the airport in San Francisco to gobble up grass and weeds in order to provide a fire break. They are in an area where two endangered species – the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog- might be harmed by mowers.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport authorities, however, don’t want to get someone’s goat or rather, a goat herd. CNN reports goats were there for a week in 2008, but an airport spokeswoman said the little animals were too effective as they ate everything including trees and native plants that authorities wanted to protect.

IN CHICAGO, the goats are expected to arrive in about a month.

The Chicago newspaper noted that Joseph Arnold, partner at Butcher & The Burger, said the goats will make “the perfect lawn mowers” for the airport.

Several news sources report some sheep will be in the herd. If that happens, it makes one wonder if they’ll separate the sheep from the goats. That probably appears doubtful.

Use of goats will not only aid vegetation management on 120 acres at O’Hare, but among the other advantages are elimination of pollution caused by mechanical mowers. They’ll also be able to reach hard-to-mow areas.

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

Even if sheep are included, the whole deal doesn’t sound baa-aa-d, at all.