Israeli shepherd Avshalom Yaaran tends to one of his black goats last week. Israeli shepherd Avshalom Yaaran tends to one of his black goats last week. Israeli shepherd Avshalom Yaaran tends to one of his black goats last week. (Photo: Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images)

The strange second life of Israel's black goats

A 70-year-old law has been reversed, clearing the way for grazing kids to play in the dirt again.

Thanksgiving came early for a breed of black goats in Israel. Last Wednesday, the process began to allow the species to prosper in the country's forests. Here's the scoop ...

They were banned in 1950

A law about the goats has been on the books for nearly 70 years. A law about the goats has been on the books for nearly 70 years. (Photo: Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images)

Thought to cause environmental damage, the goats were barred from forests and woodlands after a law passed in 1950. Their intensive grazing was believed to stimulate biodiversity loss. Other countries in the Mediterranean imposed similar legislation on the black goat species.


Their population has been dwindling ever since

In recent years, fewer black goats have been seen in the Carmel Forest in northern Israel. In recent years, fewer black goats have been seen in the Carmel Forest in northern Israel. (Photo: Idan Ben Haim / Shutterstock)

Not surprisingly, the ban led to a decrease in the population of black goats, who go by the scientific name of Capra hircus. By some estimates, their number has fallen from 15,000 45 years ago to around 2,000 today.


The ban has just been repealed

Legislation to limit the goats has now been scrapped. Legislation to limit the goats has now been scrapped. (Photo: Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, Israel began the repeal of the law that limited the black goats. They are joining other countries in the area to reintroduce them. The goat population is expected to prosper, which, we're told, is udder-ly fantastic news.


Turns out, they're good for the environment

The scientific name for the black goats is Capra hircus. These goats are no longer hitting the hay. (Photo: Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images)

Though the original law restricted them to reduce harm to forests and other wooded areas, recent studies have shown that these goats are actually beneficial. Their grazing would thin out undergrowth that can fuel devastating forest fires. By eating dry, flammable bushes and shrubs, the goats can help reduce the risk of fire. Now that's something to be thankful for.

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