COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

If the 200 goats grazing Tubbs Hill in Coeur d'Alene received an employee evaluation, the comments might read negatively.

  1. Employee makes noises that are disruptive to others.
  2. Employee is constantly eating.
  3. When employee is not eating, he or she is sleeping on the job.

Well these employees are ruminant animals and the work they're doing requires all those things. For the next three weeks, Craig Madsen's 200 goats will be clearing brush on Tubbs Hill in preparation for fire season.

“The goats start whenever they want to go out and eat,” Madsen laughed. “They're on their own schedule when they're out here in the pen."

His company, Healing Hooves has been contracted by the City of Coeur d'Alene to clear the west side of Tubbs Hill. The average goat will eat 8-10 pounds of food a day, but with 200 of them, they can get through an entire acre a day.

"It's about $500 dollars an acre,” Urban Forestry Coordinator Katie Kosanke said. “Mechanical can be anywhere from $900 to $1,500. So it's a significant reduction."

It's a 22-acre project that will take roughly three weeks to complete. The Coeur d'Alene Fire Department received a grant from the federal government for a fuel reduction project, so it's not costing the city anything. It is the more environmentally friendly technique.

“We continually do fuel reduction programs in our natural open space area to reduce the ladder fuel," Kosanke said.

The goats are fenced in. They are moved everyday to a new acre of land.

"Just set up one net and then put the other one right next to it,” Madsen said. “So you can just move them from one to the other."

It's a hard job, but someone's got to do it.