MOITA DA GUERRA, Portugal – With the hot dry summer fast approaching, Portugal is sending in the goats.
The government is hiring dozens of goat herds nationwide to guard against a repeat of last year’s catastrophic wildfires, which killed 106 people. That includes using goats to clean up the underbrush in as much woodland as possible before temperatures rise and Portugal’s rugged hills become a tinder box.
The goats are an environmentally friendly defense against fires, and have been used for years in the United States, especially California and the Pacific Northwest.
Blazes routinely blacken large areas of forest every year in Portugal, but last year was the deadliest summer fire season on record. That became a wake-up call for authorities, who were slow to react to social trends and a changing climate.