Residents shocked after Sullivans Pond geese struck in crosswalk

A couple of Sullivans Pond geese were struck late Wednesday afternoon in a crosswalk on Prince Albert Road in Dartmouth. They died, and a third bird that returned to the pond is being monitored by volunteers.

Two birds are dead after driver runs into flock in Prince Albert Road crosswalk

Sullivans Pond geese are shown being fed on a resident's lawn. (Angela Jones Rieksts)

A couple of well-known Sullivans Pond geese died after they were struck late Wednesday afternoon in a crosswalk on Prince Albert Road in Dartmouth.

Angela Jones Rieksts, who was at the scene, said the driver of the car that hit the birds stopped for a few minutes and then left. There were feathers on the ground in and around the crosswalk following the incident.  

The geese that inhabit the pond regularly use the crosswalk to visit the grounds at the Findlay Community Centre located across Prince Albert Road on Elliot Street.

'They're like my pets'

"I'm very saddened tonight. Those geese ... I feed them every day on my front lawn. I can call out to them and they come over. They're like my pets," Jones Rieksts said.

"The people of Dartmouth have a great love and affinity for the geese. I see people wait every day for them to cross the road. Sometimes they take 15 minutes to cross the road and the cars will be lined a quarter of a mile up the street waiting for them. But people never seem to be impatient."

The crosswalk at Sullivans Pond where two geese were struck late Wednesday afternoon. They died. (Angela Jones Rieksts)

Halifax police said it appeared that the driver did not see the birds and witnesses told them speed was not a factor in the collision.

No charges have been laid.

Volunteers keeping an eye on 3rd bird

Hope Swinimer, founder and director of animal rehabilitation centre Hope for Wildlife, said there was a flurry of phone calls to police and the municipality beginning at about 5:50 p.m. when the geese were struck.

"We rushed some volunteers over. One was killed instantly. She [the volunteer] rushed them both to the metro animal emerg. Unfortunately, the second of the two was almost dead on arrival so they did do a humane euthanasia."

Volunteers are keeping a watchful eye on a third goose, who may have been injured in the collision or has pre-existing limp.

Fair bit of outrage

Neighbourhood resident Tim Rissesco is also mourning the geese.

"There was a fair bit of outrage on social media. A lot of people are upset. The geese mean a lot to people," said Rissesco, who's also executive director of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission.

"Sullivans Pond is sort of the heart of Dartmouth and the geese have a special spot in the life of Dartmouthians. We put them on postcards, we put them on buttons, the geese are very popular."

Geese from Sullivan's Pond in Dartmouth are transported to their winter refuge in Seaforth, N.S. by non-profit group Hope for Wildlife. (Chelsea Pullen)

The fact that the geese know to use the crosswalk is part of their charm, he said.

"They use the crosswalk when they cross from Sullivans Pond to the Findlay Centre. Cars always stop for them. It is part of what keeps life civilized in Dartmouth — you stop for the geese as they cross the road.

"There is a lead goose. He or she she will slap his foot on the road a few times and then the cars will stop and he'll lead them across the street. Then when it's time to return, the lead goose will do that again. It's quite spectacular, really."

'Really impacted me'

Meanwhile, people are shocked and upset by the loss of the geese, which reduced their number to seven from nine.

"As I was standing there watching the geese die, it struck me as something that would be very significant to the other people of Dartmouth," Jones Rieksts said.

"I'm actually surprised. I'm more upset than I ever thought I would be. But it's really impacted me."

With files from Marina von Stackelberg