One tough bird: Father goose carries on despite arrow through belly
Surgery to remove arrow revealed Canada goose had also been hit with shotgun pellets
A Canada goose living on a golf course in Lachute, Que., was still able to be a good father to his goslings over the last several weeks, despite an arrow through his belly.
David Allard, manager of Golf et Auberge Oasis, first noticed the wounded goose about six weeks ago among a flock that was nesting on the course.
"He looked in great shape. It was nothing big at all. He was walking with the group, doing all the things," Allard told CBC News.
Despite the bird's stoic resolve, Allard was concerned and called in federal wildlife agents, who are responsible for migratory birds in Canada.
Fatherly duties take precedence
Jo-Annie Gagnon, education program co-ordinator at Le Nichoir bird sanctuary in Hudson, said the agents determined it was best to leave the goose alone for awhile.
At the time, the goose was helping to care for several newborn goslings, and Gagnon said the young birds needed their father.
"This goose was able to do everything a goose should do: swimming, raising its babies, eating. The only thing he couldn't do was fly," Gagnon said.
Gagnon says Canada geese typically don't need to fly much in spring and summer as they're nesting.
But the bird will need to fly south in winter — as Canada geese do.
This week wildlife agents returned to seize the bird, after determining the goslings were now old enough to look out for themselves.
The goslings weren't happy to see their father taken away, so they gathered around him as the wildlife agents converged on the golf course.
The agents carefully herded the whole flock into a temporary holding pen, and then gingerly plucked the impaled goose from the fray.
More hardships revealed
The goose was taken to Le Nichoir, and veterinarians performed successful surgery to remove the arrow.
But they determined the arrow wasn't the first hardship this goose had faced.
Gagnon says they also found four shotgun pellets embedded in his skin.
The veterinarians decided it was safer to leave those alone, as the skin had healed around them.
Limited hunting of Canada geese with shotguns and bows and arrows is legal in Canada.
"Wildlife is surprisingly resilient to that kind of thing. Sometimes it's surprising to see what they can survive with and cope with," Gagnon said.
The goose is now recovering at Le Nichoir, and Gagnon said if all goes well he'll fully recover and be able to fly again.
But will this durable fowl be reunited with his goslings?
"It depends when he'll be released, but probably not because by the time he's healed and ready to go, it's going to be migration time, so the other geese will probably have left already," Gagnon said.
But Gagnon said it's still possible a family reunion is in the cards.
"Sometimes, even in the winter, geese tend to go back to the same place and then back to the same place in the spring, so he might actually meet up with his family and his mate later on during migration."