Thursday, May 9, 2013

Planes, Runways and....Goats?

After my previous post about O'Hare implementing a new system that would cut the wait time at customs, I thought officials at the airport were thinking clearly. And then I heard about this...

On Wednesday, Chicago's Department of Aviation announced a contract with the operator of Lincoln Park restaurant Butcher & The Burger to bring 25 goats to the airport to graze among the runways. Yes, you heard me right, goats. I figured they had to be out of their minds. But then I continued reading the article and found that this is actually a pretty interesting idea.

The goats are part of the airport's pilot vegetation-management program, which means the animals will act as natural lawn mowers. According to the city's request, the goats are expected to clear 250 square feet of vegetation per day. (Whether or not they will be fired if they fail to accomplish this is unclear.)

So, why goats? Well, two reasons. First, the embankments, rocky terrain and hilly areas are tough on the airport's machinery, and can be difficult to reach. The goats can easily walk around these areas and eat away at any overgrowth. Second, it is a good way for the airport to be more sustainable and eco-friendly.

So what about safety? I mean, how are these little goats going to match up to massive planes, not to mention all the vehicles that zip around the runways on a daily basis? O'Hare has that covered, too. The goats will be shepherded by the woman who takes care of them out on the farm in Barrington Hills, and they will roam 120 acres at four different sites on the property. Those sites will be kept secured via fencing to make sure no goats wander onto the runway.

As far as innovation goes, this is bleating genius!

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