Skip to main content

Chicago airport gets goats

By Aaron Cooper, CNN
updated 9:33 AM EDT, Sat May 11, 2013
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
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 11:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
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
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT