Goats take over Berkeley hills, but what is their intent?

Goats Photo Eric Cotts
An “army” of goats on Centennial Drive near the Berkeley Lab. Photo: Eric Cotts

Reader Eric Cotts recently shared the photo above with us. It was taken on June 1, and shows a large number of goats on a hill near the Berkeley Lab. It inspired us to send our photo intern Melati Citrawireja to capture more images of the animals everyone seems to adore (see them below the fold).

While goats are commonly used to clear brush and grass in the East Bay (Berkeleyside has written about this use of goats for fire prevention), Cotts was not convinced the cloven-hoofed herd was there for such a benign reason. “I would not be so sanguine about the intent of these agile Bovidae,” he wrote us.

“Presumably reports are already streaming in to Berkeleyside about the hundreds of goats massing on the edge of town,” he wrote. “653 goats were spotted this morning on the edge of Centennial Drive, just above campus (and LBNL). The goats (labelled ‘a goat army’ by one independent observer), were clearly well coordinated and up to something. Whether this is simply a fact finding tour on their part, or they plan to take the town, is anyone’s guess at this point. At 9:46 a.m. they appeared to be showing some movement towards the Botanical Garden.”

At least one other reader echoed Cotts’ conspiracy theory. After we posted his photo and remarks on Facebook, Evelyn Nussenbaum wrote: “I am ready to submit to our new goat masters.”


Others rejoiced at seeing such an environmentally sound activity on display. Wrote Waziuddin Chowdhury: “These soldiers show up year after year to clean the brushes and make our hills safe. No fuel emission, only fertilizers after a good day’s work. Everybody wins!”

Goats on Centennial Drive 6-2-15 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Up close with a goat, one of hundreds on Centennial Drive on June 2, 2015. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Goats on Centennial Drive 6-2-15 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Our intrepid photographer missed this sign at first, and actually got an electric shock while photographing the goats on Centennial Drive on June 2, 2015. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Goats on Centennial Drive 6-2-15 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Goats are commonly used in the East Bay hills to clear grass and brush as a fire prevention method. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Goats on Centennial Drive 6-2-15 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Goats climb trees! Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Goats on Centennial Drive 6-2-15 Photo: Melati Citrawireja
Hello. Goats near Berkeley Lab on June 2, 2015. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

Melati Citrawireja, who took the photographs for this story, is a summer photo intern at Berkeleyside. Citrawireja is a development studies undergraduate at UC Berkeley, currently pursuing a career in visual journalism. More of her work can be found online at Melati Photography.

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