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Rescuing Animals Can Be Quite An Adventure!
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Rescuing Animals Can Be Quite An Adventure!

As a single mother who was raised on a farm, all I know is to give my children the responsibility of caring for animals to help them learn the connection between proper care and life. We not only have many pets to take care of, we also have been active with animal rescue situations for domestic animals, wildlife and farm animals. Some of the biggest adventures we have had were with attempting to assist or rescue animals that didn't necessarily realize they were endangered, nor did they realize we were there to help. Yeah, it gets to be a little challenging at times.

However, many of the animal stories have been without a lot of drama and have been memorable conversations to reflect upon. One such story is about a family of Canada Geese who decided to nest along a small pond in the middle of a very business retail areas. They hatched out 6 goslings and caused quite a ruckus in the area. The male, Gander, would harass passersby and was quite protective of the brood he produced.

It is difficult for people to understand their diet needs and resist trying to help by feeding a young family of waterfowl when they see them in such an open setting. The wrong diet and freely feeding this family caused the Gander to become more aggressive since he began to expect the unacceptable hand-outs.

That was where we came it. We went to the printer and had a special sign made up asking people to stop feeding them human food and instructing them that they were being monitored and fed their proper diet by us. The days went by and the onlookers were relieved to see that the animals were taken care of by people who knew their needs. We observed them for several days without much incidence.

Now the adventure would begin with keeping the Goslings safe in this area with the heavy rains fast approaching. The spillway presented a large danger for the goslings to be washed over and down the river. That was not the only natural danger for the family. Across the busy street there is a feral cat village where many tenants of the large apartment complex located there reside. The cats live on the river banks and hunt throughout the area.

The gander began to recognize our vehicle with each morning of us arriving to feed and check on them and so did the local employees of the area. One morning as we approached to feed the Geese, we noticed the family was running toward us and in circles. The odd behavior was soon understood as a couple ladies came running out to us very concerned because one of the goslings was missing. I went straight to the spillway and as I approached I heard the sound of a gosling calling out. It had washed over from the rain and down about 8 feet to the concrete bottom.

I did not have a net with me, nor did I have a ladder. Luckily, there was a contractor who I had just seen drive past with a ladder on his truck. I called his number that was listed on the side of his work vehicle and asked if he would come back and assist us. He agreed and returned. However, he was too large to fit through the grates that covered the opening and I was not agile enough to get over the wall, nor did I feel confident with my ability to master such a feat.

The whole key to animal rescue is trying to rescue the animal without putting it or rescuers in harm and to avoid injury whenever possible. We work on humans must remain safe as the first policy, yet often forget that policy when in the throws of rescuing an injured animal.

Luckily another man saw our operation and quickly came to assist. He was very slender and quickly climbed down and retrieved the gosling. The gander and hen were quick to attempt to reclaim the gosling. Therefore, I simply asked the man to see if there were any broken bones or injuries. He confirmed there weren't so we quickly put the gosling down for the family to reclaim and dashed away before the gander had a chance to strike or beat us with his outstretched wings.

The next morning was worse as the rains were stronger yet. A couple different ladies were across the bank very upset when I arrived to feed the family of Canada Geese. One of the goslings was stuck on a piece of plastic wrap out in the middle of the swelled pond and another was missing.

Luckily I was prepared with my net and was able to reach the gosling with a bit of effort and bring it safely back to shore. However, the other gosling was still missing and the rain was beginning again. I walked the steep banks on the side where the feral cat village was through grass as high as my thighs, yet could not find the gosling. I followed the river down about five miles through the urban areas until it wound out to almost a trickle down the way. I could not find the gosling anywhere. That was a sad day.

We were in communication with the State Game and Parks and gave them daily reports on the family, but their policy was to not relocate the family until imminent danger was a factor or if they became a nuisance to the local merchants and customers. They felt our efforts of feeding them in a designated spot was enough for the time being.

The next night brought more rain and heavier than the previous night. We were very concerned whether we would find any of the goslings with their parents or not. Upon arrival, the gander quickly came to meet me on the street. He was in quite a dander and chased me a couple different times back up the bank, which made feeding them a challenge. I realized he was concerned because another one of the goslings was missing.

I repeated my efforts as the day before starting with the spillway and up on the banks. Yet I could not find the missing gosling. This family was in immediate danger. It sometimes seems that the authorities do not care about the issue as much as those who grow fond of watching nature within the confines of a working area. The employees at the surrounding businesses had grown very fond of the family and were very upset to see the family slowing losing all the offspring they watched develop after watching the hen sit for the month it takes to hatch the goslings.

There was only one thing to do at this point, which was get the family relocated to a safer area so the young could have a chance to develop. The only way that could happen was to inform the concerned employees to individually contact the Game and Parks Department. As rescuers, we cannot relocate migratory birds without their approval and it is against the laws to take on the task without their assistance or authority. At that point we only had the authority to feed them and keep them from begging passersby for food.

The next morning we returned to feed the family and much to our surprise...not a goose was in sight. Obviously, the calls to the right people finally made a difference and the family was probably relocated at night since it is much easier catching and handling them when they are sleepy.

What we took away from that experience was not only a story with some tragedy to share, but many pictures as we try to photographically journal our rescue efforts whenever possible. We also were able to teach others about the dietary needs of waterfowl and enlighten them on the dangerous behaviors that come from freely feeding them.

The diet we shared with the Geese was comprised of the same we feed our own flock of ducks and chickens. We feed them dark green lettuces (NOT iceberg), fresh vegetable scraps cut into small bite sizes, a protein mixture, steamed crimped oats, cracked corn, fancy scratch and black oil sunflower seeds, which we purchase at the farm feed store. When this is not available, we suggest feeding them cracked corn that you can find in most grocery stored that people feed to squirrels and wild birds or at the least -- whole wheat bread, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce or other bite size cut vegetables and NEVER white bread or iceberg lettuce as it has no nutritional value for them.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I hope you enjoyed it!

Rita L. Richards

Street Talk

Thank you Rita for such an informative & beautifully written article! A subject dear to our hearts here in Queensland, Australia.

  about 1 decade ago

Thank you Steve for such a thoughtful comment. I am glad you enjoyed my article. An ironic fact : I am currently working in one of the office buildings next to the pond where those Canada Geese were living and the college I attend is in the same square block as well. In the spring, I will be there when they come back.

  about 1 decade ago
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