Home / National News / How Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Is Dealing with Its Tall Grass Problem


(CHICAGO) — Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport landscaping team doesn’t consist of a group of people using lawn mowers and other gardening tools.

Rather, it’s a herd of hooved animals who love green vegetation.

Over 40 grazers, including goats, sheep, llamas, burros and alpacas, graze hilly and rocky areas along creeks part of O’Hare’s 8,000-acre property that would be difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA).

CDA Commisioner Ginger Evans met the herd for the first time on Tuesday, just in time to celebrate the second-year anniversary of O’Hare’s Sustainable Vegetation Management Initiative in partnership with Settler’s Pond Hooved Animal Shelter and Rescue.

“This is my first time meeting our grazing herd and I am thrilled to be here,” Evans said. “It is not only a fascinating and unique concept for the airport environment, but it also fits in with one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s goals to make Chicago not only the most American of American cities, but also the greenest.”

The grazing herd benefits the airport in multiple economic, operational and environmental ways, the CDA says.

In addition to being able to landscape hard-to-reach areas, the animals don’t demand pay, for one thing.

“They don’t charge any overtime,” Evans told ABC News affiliate WLS-TV. “No, they just nibble away.”

The team also happily eats invasive plants that help repel certain problematic wildlife such as birds that could be hazardous to airport operations, according to the CDA.

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