Diego Cue, CC license

After the peninsula on Howth’s Head caught fire last year, pouring clouds of black smoke over the financial district of Ireland’s fair capital, city planners knew they needed to take a sterner stance on out-of-control weeds.

So they hired a crack team of landscapers led by a dedicated forewoman to manage the weeds which quickly began to grow over the firebreaks.

The Old Irish Goat is, amazingly, not the name of a pub, but a critically endangered species that was Ireland’s naturally-adapted breed—it is their ceaseless munching of local species that make them ideal for the job of de-weeding.

The goat has been bred out of existence in captivity, and roams remote hillsides in small numbers. An organization dedicated to keeping their DNA free from continental domestic goat genetics has supplied a herd to take over as Howth’s Head new ”firefighters’.

The Old Irish Goat has short legs, large horns, and a thick coat. They’re perfectly adapted to life on the Irish hills.

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“Our goats come from the mountains and eat whatever’s there, scrub, heather, gorse. They’re the most suitable for this task,” Pádraic Browne, the Old Irish Goat Society’s chair, told The Guardian.

“We’re giving our beautiful little creatures a job to do, which they’re doing. They’re not just a tourist attraction, they can earn their keep.”

Currently the firefighters consist of 14 nannies and 11 kids, to be added to with adult males until it grows to about 100 goats—a necessary reinforcement as the strength of Irish wildfires on Howth and elsewhere have been growing over recent years.

RELATED: Fires Have Helped These Endangered Woodpeckers Make a Comeback, and It’s a Reminder of Nature’s Resiliency

As strange as it may seem in a country as seemingly wet and cloudy as Ireland to have multiple firefighter units for a single city, it gives the chance for a largely forgotten piece of wild natural heritage to raise awareness on its own behalf.

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Dr john Masawe

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