‘Bleat and Greet’ Held in Glendale

Glendale residents Zoe Hacopian, 8, and her sister Mila Hacopian, 7, enjoy getting up close and personal with a young goat in Brand Park.                       Photos by Ruth SOWBY

Hundreds of goats tasked with clearing local brush to prevent fires.


Many people might not know it takes at least 300 goats more than three hours to chomp 10 acres of vegetation and brush. The reason people need to care about such a detail? Goats are being used to clear brush in Glendale’s Brand Park in order to spare nearby homes from fires. 

A goat used for brush clearance in Brand Park found a tasty morsel.

On Saturday, Glendale Fire Chief Tim Ernst oversaw the chomping goats with only several yards of a low voltage electrified fence to keep the goats in and curious onlookers out. The fences also protected the goats from predators, like coyotes, that roam the hillsides.   

Once a year the GFD brings in the goats to clear the land in fire prone areas and an Australian shepherd dog to do the goat herding. The Glendale Fire Dept. (GFD) contracts with Fire Grazers to truck in the dog and goats. 

“As they graze on hazardous vegetation and brush, the goats provide a fuel break or buffer to save homes from fire on Mountain Street and Idlewood Road,” said Chief Ernst. “The buffer will reduce the intensity of fire. But we still want residents to create and maintain defensible space around their homes.”  

Glendale Fire Dept. Chief Tim Ernst and Fire Prevention Inspector Patricia Munro pose with an Australian Shepherd goat herder during a fire mitigation demo with goats in Brand Park.

The three-year-old program to use the goats was initially sparked by Glendale residents, according to Patricia Munro, GFD Fire Prevention inspector. 

“It’s good for the environment, too,” said Munro. 

The hungry goats eat brush but leave the roots intact, keeping hillsides safe from erosion. The goats even eat poison oak, which has prevented human workers from going into some areas. The four-legged city workers are also used in areas where the terrain is too steep and wild for hand crews to access.         

Glendale resident Ciara Myers, 13, photographer extraordinaire, focuses on goats in Brand Park.

Glendale has a history of destructive wildfires that ravage vegetation-dense hillsides. In 2002 a fire consumed 752 acres of chaparral-covered open space behind Brand Park threatening homes in Glendale and Burbank. In 1990, the College Hills Fire burned 100 acres, causing $20 million in damage to nearly 70 homes.  

On Saturday, dozens of nearby residents watched the brown, gray, black and white goats munching on the hillside brush. One was La Crescenta resident Richard Rands.

“I wish they’d bring goats up to my neck of the woods,” said Rands. “We could use them. Our brush is really dry this time of year.”

In an attempt to educate onlookers on fire safety an Environmental Management Center booth was set up. Besides information on how to keep homes fire safe, staff handed out red plastic fire helmets and miniature fire hydrants to children. There was even an enclosed petting area for the kids (the human kind) to get up close to young goats not yet old enough to match their parents’ appetites for brush and vegetation.