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Happy Birthday! Howth Irish Goats Celebrate Year One In the Battle To Dampen Gorse Fires

A year on from announcing a ground-breaking conservation grazing project in partnership with Old Irish Goat Society, Fingal County Council says that the three-year scheme is already proving to be a positive undertaking and has been warmly received by the local community.

Last summer, Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) was faced with various fires on the head over a long six-week period where it seemed smoke was always billowing from an outbreak. Two months later, DFB had the benefit of a new crew of Old Irish Goat firefighters permanently based on the hill which has resulted in a vastly improved situation. The herd have done their bit by eating their way through vegetation like gorse, briars and bracken. By reducing the burnable vegetation and maintaining existing firebreaks, they are continually reducing the potential spread of any wildfires which may start in the vicinity.

Goat herder for the Old Irish Goat Society, Melissa Jeuken, who began managing the herd last September said: “The goats have had a really positive impact on the grazing sites in Howth over the last 12 months, and they have settled in very well. Howth Hill is a very scenic location to work in, but it is also an ideal landscape for these goats and I think the Old Irish goats feel like it is a home away from home. The herd is thriving in Howth.”

The fire prevention efforts have also been bolstered by the addition of 15 new kids as well as a troupe of males from Mayo, bringing the total population to a hungry 64.

The success of the project has also resulted in the extension of grazing to 3 additional locations on the hill and the last remaining Old Irish Goat has finally found its natural home.

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