Injured wild goose taken to bird 'hospital'
By Allen Hicks
Marshfield News Herald
Monday, December 8, 2003
Christmas - the goose - was saved this weekend with the help of some central Wisconsin wildlife enthusiasts.
The injured goose could no longer fly, and it faced danger and probable death from predators or the cold, said Cathy Zygarlicke, a town of Richfield woman who organized the Saturday morning rescue effort.
Volunteers pursued the Canada goose over a mostly frozen five-acre pond before capturing it in a nearby field. It was taken to the Raptor Education Group in Antigo, where efforts will be made to help it regain the use of its wing.
"What just happened is kind of typical. Chase them until you catch them," said Ken Luepke, Spencer, who has about 25 years' experience rescuing birds, but usually works with birds of prey.
Wisconsin Rapids resident Nicki Christianson was among the people who aided the effort. Christianson, who for the past three years has helped nurse small wild mammals back to health, said there was concern about whether the ice on the pond would be solid enough to hold the people pursuing the goose.
"I know you need to get between the goose and open water," she said. Otherwise, the rescuers might be at risk.
The goose - dubbed Christmas by the Zygarlicke family - had a broken wing, and might never fly again, said Luepke, who has a permit to capture and band birds for scientific study.
That prognosis was confirmed by Marge Gibson, executive director of the Raptor Education Group. But Christmas can stay at the organization's facility, joining a male Canada goose with a similar injury, Gibson said.
Canada geese have become a familiar sight at the residence where Zygarlicke and her family have lived the past seven years.
Every year, between 50 and 100 geese return to the 20-acre wooded property and stay through the summer.
Zygarlicke said she enjoyed going to bed listening to the honking, and then awaking to the same sounds in the morning.
"I love animals," said Zygarlicke, who plans to become a chiropractor specializing in animals.
There were about 50 geese residing on the family's five-acre pond about four weeks ago when some trespassers began shooting at them. The birds left the property and didn't return. About two weeks later, the family saw a Canada goose that must have been hiding in the woods. It wasn't apparent that the animal was injured until a week later, Zygarlicke said. Luepke said it appeared the animal's wing was broken.
"Probably from gunshots, but who knows?" he guessed.
Zygarlicke said she never seriously considered letting the bird fend for itself over the winter.
Her search for help eventually led to people like Luepke and Christianson.
Luepke has been capturing birds and banding them for decades, and he enjoys the rescue efforts.
"It's kind of a necessary thing," Luepke said.