With part one of their mission complete, goats hired to clear brush in a Leesburg drainage channel are moving on to their next job site, but without two of their comrades.
Renee LaFollette, director of the town’s Public Works & Capital Projects Department, confirmed Tuesday that two goats died last week due to the heat while working along the Town Branch.
“Animal Control was involved and worked with the owner of Prosperity Acres [the contractor and owner of the goats]. The officer deemed the deaths to be heat related, no foul play or malicious intent was determined. They remarked on how healthy and well cared for the herd was,” LaFollette said. “These animals are herd or livestock animals. The same conditions would exist on a farm or where they were working and it would have tremendously stressed the animals to move them in that heat.”
LaFollette said the goats will be moved by early next week to a second site on the east side of the Plaza Street bridge. The contract between the town and Prosperity Acres has the goats returning to Leesburg again in the fall, to the same two areas, to clear them once more before the winter. After that, LaFollette said, staff and Prosperity Acres will determine if the herd will be needed back in town once or twice in 2020.
The goat herd was brought in to help the town meet regulatory mandates to keep the stream channels clear of vegetation, but without using chemical herbicides that were used in the past. LaFollette said the staff has been pleased with how efficient the goats have been at clearing the brush.
“It has been fascinating to watch them do their jobs,” she said.