Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Article on Gulliver the Goose from Caledonia Argus, Caledonia,MN

The article below is printed by permission of the Caledonia Argus. It appeared in that paper on Feb. 11, 2009. We are delighted to report that Gulliver is doing well and has found love in another Canada Goose in rehabiliation at REGI. Our thanks to Charlie Warner, Editor of the Argus, Craig Moorhead and the fine people that cared so much for this goose and found a way to help him. Marge Gibson

Brownsville's 'Gulliver the Goose' rehabbing nicely in Antigo, Wis. By Craig Moorhead
Special for the Caledonia Argus Caledonia, MN

There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.
- Aldo Leopold
A wild Canadian goose with an injured wing first caught the attention
of Brownsville residents a couple of months ago. The bird could be
seen in the Mississippi River near the shoreline, towards the
northern end of town.
Lavonne Jahn was among the first to spot the flightless bird. She
contacted neighbors and friends about the goose and called the
Minnesota DNR to see if anything could be done. "They told me they
could come over and shoot it," she said. Lavonne wasn't too happy
with that.
Winter arrived, and the stranded bird could be seen swimming in an
ever-shrinking pool of water. The ice was closing in. Brownsville residents started trying to get food to the bird. They
took corn, bread, and even muffins and tossed them out for the goose,
which was near the foot of a steep embankment. As the weather
worsened, more and more people took notice of the plight of the goose. Lana Twite, owner of The Copper Penny restaurant, says that customers
started talking about the Brownsville goose almost every day.
Everyone seemed to have an opinion. Some thought the bird should be
rescued, while others thought that nature should be allowed to take
its course. As one resident put it, "eagles need to eat too." Brownsville Postmaster Barb Keehn said that people were showing up to
drop off their mail, pick up stamps, and see if anyone had news about
the goose. The Brownsville goose had become the talk of the town. Amiie Gabrilska of the Coulee Region Humane Society said that several
people contacted her agency about the big bird. Only those with
wildlife rehabilitation permits and federal migratory bird permits
are allowed to take charge of a live wild goose. Gabrilska says that
her agency had people with the permits, but a problem remained. It was a big problem. The treacherous ice conditions made catching
the bird next to impossible. As resident Laurie Arzaga said, "We were
trying to figure out how to help it, rescue it, but we could see that
the ice was too dangerous."
Arzaga talked the situation over with her friend Sara Lubinski.
Lubinski, a botanist and landscape painter who works part-time for
the U. S. Geological Survey, began contacting people she knew, seeing
if they knew of anyone who could help.
Enter Shawn Giblin and Eric Cummings, Wisconsin DNR employees who
work out of the USGS field station, La Crosse. Giblin and Cummings
were set to do water quality sampling with their airboat at Lawrence
Lake and Stoddard.
Lubinski said that the day before the attempted rescue (Jan. 11), the
goose could be seen sitting in what was left of its pool of open
water, now only about three feet wide.
On Jan. 12 the open water was gone. Lubinski said she couldn't see
the bird. She had a sinking feeling as she headed for the boat
landing. Giblin and Cummings were set to meet Gabrilska at Lawrence
Lake that morning, and she dreaded telling them that the goose was
gone. When she reached the landing Jahn showed up, telling everyone
that the bird was on the bank. The thermometer stood at two above as
the rescuers departed.
"It wasn't a terribly scientific process," Giblin said. "I just threw
my muskie net in and Amiie brought a dog carrier." Shawn drove the
airboat while Eric grasped the net. The goose was herded out onto the
ice. On the third pass, Eric netted the bird.
Giblin: "It went surprisingly smooth. He seemed like he was on his
last legs. We chased him about three or four minutes before we caught
Gabrilska returned to Onalaska with the goose, which was originally
thought to be a female. Dr. Laura Johnson, a wild bird specialist
from Prairie Du Chien, Wis. drove to Onalaska to examine the bird.
She requested radiographs, which another local veterinarian donated.
Tests indicated that the goose could be saved, and might even regain
its ability to fly.
Coulee Region Humane Society started looking for a licensed wildlife
rehabilitator to take the bird (now thought to be a gander). Raptor
Education Group Inc. of Antigo, Wis. offered to take the goose and
nurse it back to health. All that was needed was a volunteer to
transport the bird.
Lubinski volunteered. On Feb. 5 she loaded up the goose, nicknamed
Gulliver, and headed for Antigo. Gulliver, she said, "made not a
single peep for three and a half hours."
She described the facility as "amazing. Gulliver was placed in a
large, clean pen with another goose and they seemed just fine
together. Once winter thaws, Gulliver can spend time in a large,
protected pond, complete with a few other geese and waterfowl to hang
out with."
(For those wishing to contact or contribute to REGI, a non-profit,
donation-funded entity, their e-mail is RaptorEducationGroup.org) If Gulliver's flying abilities return, he will travel back to the
Mississippi flyway for eventual release.
Why do all this for a goose? Lubinski replied, "I'd been watching
this goose for weeks. I really hadn't thought about doing anything
about it until Laurie called. One day just north of town I saw two
coyotes crossing where the ice was a little firmer. Another day an
eagle swooped right over the top of the goose and I thought 'this
goose is still there.' This is an amazing goose, surviving all those
predators and the ice, not being able to fly or get to food." An amazing goose? Is that all? Lubinski thinks for a moment, then
begins to quote Leopold from memory: "And when the dawn-wind stirs
through ancient cottonwoods, and the gray light steals down from the
hills over the old river sliding softly past its wide brown
sandbars--- what if there be no more goose music?"

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