THE herd of hungry goats that roam the hills of Howth has multiplied – as the Dublin fire service welcomed 15 new fire kids.
Some 25 Old Irish goats – a bearded breed that has almost disappeared – were moved to Howth from the Mulranny Hills in County Mayo at the end of last year.
Fingal County Council goat farmer Mellisa Jeuken was also deployed alongside the 25 goats.
Dublin Fire Brigade took to Twitter to share the news that 15 new children had joined their crew as members of the herd had given birth in the past 12 days.
They thanked breeder Mellisa for stopping the goats from going on a “ram-page”.
Dublin Fire Brigade wrote: “Our firefighters at Kilbarrack Station met the new ‘firefighters’ from Howth today.
“15 kids have been born to goat firefighters in the last 12 days. Thanks to @Fingalcoco goat herder Melissa for stopping the kids from doing a ram page.”
Norway’s “no-fence” system that uses GPS tracking is being tested in Ireland for the first time.
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The animals wear GPS tracking boxes around their necks that signal if they stray.
Until the 1940s Howth Head was traditionally grazed by cattle and goats in particular, but the decline of traditional grazing has been accompanied by a sharp increase in forest fires.
The growth of gorse and ferns has increased and the diversity and quality of heathland has declined.
Last year, gorse fires in Howth scorched an area of around 65 acres for several weeks despite efforts to contain them by Dublin Fire and the Irish Air Corps.
Firefighters have also been deployed to deal with a number of gorse fires in the area this summer.
The Old Irish goat has the ability to control gorse build-up, particularly after fires and, due to its grazing behavior and efficient digestive system, adapts to feeding in harsher environments with moors of low nutritional quality.
These goats will play an important role in managing growth to reduce fire risk to dwellings, while enhancing the biodiversity of priority moorland habitats.
The program will also prevent old Irish goats from becoming extinct.