Police Files

Not a petting zoo: Goat gazers advised to stay away

It seems that throngs of people are trying to get to our goats in Laguna Beach. Stu News heard from one source that they had seen over 40 people at one time up on the trails watching the goats, and also that people were trying to feed and touch them.

Recent police records substantiate these reports.

On Sunday, March 31, at 6:54 p.m., at Dartmoor Street and Dunnegan Drive, LBPD received a report in reference to two men in their 20s, possibly intoxicated, pestering the goats. The two men were reportedly “hiding in the bushes, bothering the goats.”

The caller was standing on the fire road near the goats and reported, “Both subjects are walking back up toward the goats. They keep wanting to go into where the goats are.”

Personnel took action, arrived on scene, and escorted the subjects away from the goats.

Police Files Goats 1

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Please don’t feed, grab or nab the goats

Merely 48 hours later, on Tuesday, April 2, at 7:48 p.m., again at Dartmoor Street and Dunnegan Drive, LBPD received additional accounts of the goats being interfered with.

According to police records, a caller advised LBPD about an incident that had occurred earlier in the day at 5:50 p.m. The RP and her daughter were looking at the goats when she noticed “four male juvies messing with them.” The boys reportedly scattered after they saw her.

The caller also advised that when she went back later, there was a baby goat that appeared sick. Having worked with goats before, she picked up the goat and wanted to take it to the hospital in the canyon.

At one point during her reported do-good rescue efforts, the RP was carrying the goat, when she encountered the City’s goat herder. 

According to police records, due to a language barrier, she couldn’t convey the message that she was trying to care for the goat. “He grabbed the goat from her and put it back,” the report reads. “She’s requesting we contact the goat herder to explain she wasn’t trying to steal the goat. She also requested a welfare check from an Animal Services Officer.”

According to Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator, Animal Services Officers responded to both calls and no action was taken.

Police Files Goats 2

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Do not interact with the goats in any way, call LBPD if there’s a concern

Animal Services advises residents and visitors not to approach the goats, no matter their intention. 

Beres advised, “The fire goats are there for a specific reason, to eat the overgrown weeds and vegetation that could develop into a fire hazard. People should leave the goats alone, they are working goats.

“Do not touch or feed the goats. If someone has a concern about the health and welfare of the goats, they should call the Police Department at (949) 497-0701 to report their concerns,” Beres said. “Our Dispatch Center has the contact information for the goat herder and can contact him quickly if necessary.”

The grazing goats are on the job and don’t appreciate harassment at the workplace. It’s not a petting zoo. 

FEMA report: Laguna’s goat vegetation management

According to a FEMA report, “Laguna Beach has been using goats as part of its fuel reduction and vegetation management program since the early 1990s. The program was expanded after a wildfire burned across 14,000 acres, destroying or damaging 441 homes in the beach community in 1993. 

Because of the climate, types of natural vegetation, and expansive wildlands in Southern California, including wildlands that reach into the city, there is an ongoing risk of wildfires. 

Police Files Goats 3

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Fully aware of the risk, Laguna Beach Fire Department is very proactive in vegetation management. One of the best ways to control wildfires is to control the amount of fuel available to feed the flames. These areas can be difficult to reach by most vegetation management equipment due to the nature of the terrain – rocks, canyons, and steep inclines. The introduction of goat herds in these areas has proven to be an ideal solution to the problem.

The goats work exclusively on 11 fuel modification zones located on the outside edges of the city. Since California weather allows it, the goats work year-round and are moved from place-to-place as needed. Depending on the amount of rain and vegetation growth each year, as few as 75 and as many as 600 goats are used. A movable goat pen with electric fencing keeps the goats from wandering off and protects them from coyotes and other wild animals.”

-By Suzie Harrison