BART Uses 500 Hungry Grazing Sheep to Reduce Fire Danger
BART deploys 500 hungry grazing sheep for fire safety this summer.
For the past two years, BART has enlisted the help of grazing goats to tackle the dried grasses around its property and reduce fire hazards sustainably. It was a successful partnership; the goats got to munch on their favorite snacks, and BART saw significant improvements in fire prevention.
But this year, a change is afoot. The goats have moved on, making way for a new set of photogenic nibblers – self-shearing sheep. Both sheep and goats fall under the Caprinae subfamily and share a love for munching on vegetation, but their preferences differ. Sheep prefer grazing grasses and short roughage, while goats have a penchant for taller woody plants. To maximize the benefits, BART rotates these fire-mitigating grazers every few years.
“BART has been using goats for a while now, meaning there’s more fine grasses and less brush now. The sheep graze the grasses, while the goats go for the coarser brittle.”
Now, with approximately 500 sheep joining the ranks, BART’s fire mitigation team has grown significantly compared to the original 100 goats. This decision to employ grazing animals over heavy machinery has proved wise. Previously, using loud and disruptive machinery to remove dried grasses posed fire risks and emitted pollutants. With the grazing animals, these hard-to-reach areas can be efficiently cleared without noise or excessive pollution.
Out with the BART Goats.
In with the BART Sheep!
This year, a new and different photogenic nibbler will be roaming the hills near BART trackways to clear dry vegetation in our efforts to fight wildfires.
— BART (@SFBART) July 24, 2023