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Grass-grazing goats, llamas descend on O'Hare

  • Grazing herd of goats, sheep, llamas and burros at OHare, which are part of the CDAs Sustainable Landscaping Initiative, Tuesday Aug. 13, 2013. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)
Grazing herd of goats, sheep, llamas and burros at OHare, which are part…
August 13, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Chicago seems to have a love-hate relationship with goats.

First it was the famed Billy Goat curse on the Cubs. Then it was the highly acclaimed Girl and the Goat restaurant.

Now, it's the grazing goats at O'Hare.

These goats are part of the herd that also includes sheep, llamas and burros that was retained to feast on the vegetation that has grown on airport property that landscapers find difficult to maintain with equipment, according to the city.

The herd got their on-camera closeup on Tuesday when the city's aviation department invited the media to see the animals at O'Hare. The animals will be grazing on up to 120 acres of land separated from the airfield by fences.

The city claimed the Sustainable Landscaping Initiative will decrease landscape maintenance costs, provide an alternative to toxic herbicides and reduce habitat for wildlife, like birds, which could be hazardous to airport operations.

The herd's arrival in late July comes a month behind the city's own expected start date. When the two-year contract was awarded in May to Central Commissary Holdings, LLC for the sustainable management grazing services, the city said the goats would start the pilot program in a month.

At that time, the Tribune reported the company, which operates the Butcher & the Burger restaurant in Lincoln Park, was the lowest bidder at $19,500 to have its goats, which were living on a Barrington Hills farm, munch on foliage.

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