Unusual Research: Local university looking to strange, yet simple solution to cut down fire danger

GUTHRIE, Okla. – One of the big enemies for firefighters dealing with wildfires is cedar trees, but researchers at Langston University may have found a possible solution to prevent wildfires and make it more manageable in Oklahoma.

Dr. Steve Hart said, “The goats have effectively controlled them.”

On any given day, you can find 1,600 goats grazing 160 acres worth of land right outside of Langston University.

Researcher Dr. Hart has been studying goats and their role in vegetation management for more than two decades.

Some of these goats can eat for hours, chewing away at brushes and trees, like the red cedar tree, and ultimately, kill it.

“Generally, they only like to eat them during the winter time of the year,” said Dr. Hart. “We think it’s due to the oils in them that give the red cedar its smell.”

It’s the oil found on cedar trees that can be extremely dangerous for firefighters.

Dr. Hart said the oil can serve as fuel for wildfires and having goats do the dirty work of clearing out the trees can save a lot of time and money in the end.

Hart said, “There used to be a lot of red cedar patches in this area here 20 years ago and basically, after five years, it was gone.”

The university applied for several grants from the government this year.

Researchers are hoping to receive some money so they can continue their research.