The Great Goose Rescue

    I was sitting in my cube on June 15th when my co-worker (and excellent George Bush impersonator) Kelly Hollis came to my cube to tell me that there was a goose stuck in the pond at our former worksite in the Dawson Creek park.


    Another of the Intel crew, Matt Hoekstra, decided to take matters into his own hands.  He put on his exersize clothing and waded into the pond.  Unfortunately, the water came up to his neck before he could get close to the water.  Matt relates:

Soon after I arrived at work, Kelly Hollis and Jesse Felling related to me that they had seen a goose trapped in the pond during their morning walk.  We worked near a nice park with a few man made ponds, it is a popular waypoint for migrating birds.  At this time of year there were a couple of flocks of migrating Canadian geese residing there, each flock with 20 or so geese.
 
Kelly mentioned that the goose was only 10 or 15 feet from the shore, but appeared to be entangled in something that was preventing it from swimming.  He said he had called several agencies for help but had none had considered the plight of the goose to be incredibly urgent.  We were waiting to hear back from the last contact, the Oregon State Police Wildlife Division, but we had not heard from them a couple of hours after our initial call.
 
I was finding it hard to concentrate on work knowing that the goose was still stuck out there.  I figured that if it were only a few feet out, I could wade in an untangle it.  I had a pair of shorts and a T-Shirt at work that day from my morning workout so I changed into them and headed out to the pond with Kelly.  When we got to the pond I saw the goose, just floating there in the water as geese normally do.  Only after watching it for a few minutes did I notice that it occasionally made an effort to swim to the shore, but couldn't.
 
Since it was a man made pond, and the goose was only about 15 feet away I decided I could probably walk out to the goose.  I took of my shoes and stepped in.  This agitated the goose and it tried violently to swim away, with no success.  The goose's mate also flew to the pond and landed near me, making threatening hissing noises letting me know that I should leave them alone.  I wasn't too worried so I proceeded toward the goose, but after taking only two or three steps into the pond, I was already up to my neck in water.  The angle of the shoreline was much steeper than I originally thought.  I was still 10 feet away from the goose and it became apparent that I would need to swim out to the goose and tread water in order to untangle it.  I stood there for a couple of minutes considering swimming out.  This wasn't clean clear water however, I was wading through a thick forest of long underwater plants which reached all the way from the floor of the pond to the top.  I was worried that in swimming out there I would get myself tangled up in these plants, or whatever the goose was tangled up in.  And then I would be in more trouble than the goose.  At least the goose could float naturally above water.  Besides there was the matter of the other goose, who I pictured pecking violently at me while I was trying to untangle its mate.
 
I decided that if the goose weren't unstuck by the time my workday was over, I was going to swim out there and do what I could.  But that wasn't my preference, it was clear we needed another plan.

At this point, Kelly tried calling the Autoban Society.  After a couple calls, he was still getting bounced around.  The most memorable quote was "Oh, a Canadian Goose?  That's a bird that migrates across our International border.  Call the Department of Interior."

Since the first two attempts didn't work, Kelly and I drove over to my parents house and grabbed their Aquaterra Kiwi kayak.  We fashioned a kind of spear with a fiberglass pole, knife, and duct tape to cut whatever was trapping the goose.  I paddled out to the goose to try and see what the situation is:

    As I got close, the goose's mate made threatening noises and charged the kayak a few times.  It turned out that the goose had quite a bit of fishing line wrapped around its leg.  I managed to cut it, and the goose weakly swam to shore and stumbled up onto dry land:

    I handed the pole to Matt and Kelly on shore.  The removed the knife from the pole and removed the rest of the line while the Goose's mate kept watch:



We came back later in the day, and saw the goose back with it's gaggle.  It was limping but doing much better.  Here's a picture of "team goose rescue":


(L to R: Me, Josh Mayfield, Jesse Felling, Matt Hoekstra, Kelly Hollis, the Goose)


 It's amazing what you can do with five engineers, a big knife, rubber pants, and a kayak!


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