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Goats-R-Us preventing fire, clearing grass

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SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- San Francisco, gateway to one of the most technologically advanced areas of the world, is turning back the clock and using an age-old method of clearing grass -- goats.

Dozens of goats were herded on to land close to San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday to chomp on the grass and reduce its potential as a fire hazard.

"We have some property just west of the airport here that is environmentally very sensitive and very difficult to get equipment or people in there," said Michael McCarron, director of community affairs for the airport.

"So we bring the goats in and they eat the vegetation as a fire prevention tool."

The airport is turning to a private company, Goats-R-Us, to provide the goats and a shepherd for the swampy area over a period of two weeks.

The airport is unlikely to take on the look of some developing country landing strips where animals sometimes wander right up to and even onto the tarmac.

McCarron says the area patrolled by goats is about a mile from the tarmac and separated by a highway.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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