The cause of death of two weed-eating goats in Leesburg in July remains a mystery, according to town officials.
"The cause of death for the two goats has not been confirmed since a necropsy was not performed," Town of Leesburg Assistant Public Information Officer Leah Kosin said in a prepared statement.
While Loudoun County Animal Control suggested severe heat as a possible cause of death since no evidence of foul play was discovered, Kosin said the goats' owner believes they either ate something they shouldn't have or were bitten by a snake.
It wouldn't have been the first time the owner saw the latter happen.
"From her experience, goats that have died from confirmed snake bites don't show obvious signs of death," Kosin said.
Copperhead snakes are known to reside in the creek bed area where the goats were working, according to town officials.
The owner said the conditions on the farm where the goats typically reside are no different than the creek bed in which they were working. Both conditions provide shade and water, and the goats remain outdoors constantly despite the heat.
Kosin added that most of the goat herd originated from South Africa, which has extreme heat conditions.
The goats were commissioned earlier this year to clear undergrowth alongside several area waterways in Leesburg, replacing the use of harmful herbicide.
"The program has been successful and does have overwhelming support from the public despite concerns from a few residents," Kosin said. "Work at both Town Branch and the Plaza Street bridge area has been completed and the goats are on their way back home."
The owner of the goats, who oversaw their growth clearing in Leesburg, declined comment for this story.