It’s often said that goats will eat anything, even a tin can. That’s not exactly true, but they’ve gotten that reputation because they like to eat brambles and invasive plants that are unappealing or even inedible to many other animals.

“They eat the broadleaf weeds and understory of trees and bushes, along with dry plants. They have the ability to eat plants that have very low protein values and still get the nutrients out of it,” says Johnny Gonzales of Environmental Land Management.

The San Diego-based company uses goats to remove dry brush and create fire breaks, areas between buildings and wildlands that are free of flammable material.

Gonzales brings in a herd, with guard dogs to protect them, and sets up a temporary fence. Then the goats munch away on dry grass, thistles, and weeds such as black mustard – an invasive plant that can provide fuel for wildfires.

“It’s a standing five-foot, seven-foot-tall, noxious, invasive weed that just burns profusely,” Gonzales says.

He says goats aren’t just cute. They’re effective, so they’re becoming an increasingly popular way for communities to reduce the risks of more dangerous wildfires.

Also see: Goats, a climate-friendly option for clearing brush

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media and Diana Madson