Hold Up for the Chicago O’Hare Airport Herd

 In Chicago, News

The second grazing season is underway for the herd consisting of goats, sheep, llamas and burros as the Chicago Department of Aviation goes for a second round as part of a Sustainable Vegetation Management Initiative near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The herd consists of 37 animals and they arrived back in late July and began to graze on the 120 acres of land on several sites around O’Hare.

While all the sites where the herd can graze are separated by security fencing, it’s still a site to see llamas and sheep nearby as you taxi down the runway.  This initiative is in partnership with the USDA Wildlife biologists who oversee the project to make sure the vegetation the herd has access to is safe. In 2013 the herd grazed on three different sites from July through November and ate a variety of plant vegetation including poison ivy and other noxious weeks. But don’t worry- they  love it!

According to a release by the Chicago Department of Aviation, “On behalf of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the CDA is very pleased to have this unique program back at O’Hare this season. This is another example of an aviation industry green initiative that also complements the Mayor’s commitment to sustainability at Chicago’s airports and the City of Chicago,” said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. “The continuation of this grazing herd, and additional partnership with the USDA Wildlife Service and 4H, will provide environmental and operational benefits for the airport and the community.”

Some of the benefits of the grazing herd include an alternative to toxic herbicides, and, in some cases, elimination of the use of equipment that produce emissions, and removal of overgrown areas reduction of wildlife habitat that can create safety concerns for flight operations in and around O’Hare.

The grazing herd will remain at O’Hare will continue until cold weather no longer permits accessibility to vegetation.

Look for the herd during your next flight in or out of Chicago O’Hare!

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