Nova Scotia

Sullivans Pond geese to be assessed for aggression after attack

The flock of geese at Dartmouth's Sullivans Pond are leaving the pond a little early this year after they attacked an 87-year-old woman last Friday.

Flock going to Hope for Wildlife a month early this year

A 2017 file photo of the geese at Sullivan's Pond in Dartmouth, N.S. (CBC)

The geese that live at Sullivans Pond in Dartmouth are going on their winter vacation a little early this year, following an attack that sent an 87-year-old woman to the hospital.

Every year, the iconic waterfowl are sent to Hope for Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation centre, for the winter months.

Hope Swinimer, who runs the centre, said Halifax's Parks and Recreation department reached out to her on Friday to ask her to take the geese on Monday — a month before they would normally go.

"We usually pick them up around Dec. 2, because the pond doesn't freeze until then," she said.

Swinimer said she was asked to assess the geese for aggressive behaviour before they're returned in the spring.

The geese at Sullivan's Pond are going away for the winter a little early this year. (CBC)

She said four new geese were added to the flock this year, and she suspects they may have been the source of the problem.

"The six old ones are very gentle and have never caused much problem over the years," she said.

Right now, Swinimer is working to wrangle a team together on short notice to take the geese on Monday.

"We need quite a group of volunteers to catch them, so I'm going to try really hard to get enough manpower down there to get them," she said.

Elderly woman hospitalized

Last Friday, Willow Webb said she was out for her morning walk when she noticed nine geese swimming in a line near the edge of the pond. Next thing she knew, she was on the ground.

"They were all after me, pecking me," Webb told CBC's Maritime Noon in a phone interview from the Dartmouth General Hospital on Wednesday.

She said she tried to kick the geese to get them to go away. Webb believes that the geese "would have torn me all to pieces" if a passerby hadn't intervened.

Webb had an operation and said she's blackened and bruised from the attack, has "got several things broken," has a cast on one of her arms and can't walk because of an injury to her hip.

Sam Austin, the councillor for the area, said hearing about the attack was like a "gut punch." He said he's concerned because there are retirement homes in the area.

"I mean, everyone loves the geese there," he said. "And to have this happen, it really is a really sad story."

Austin said he's heard anecdotes about people being "run off by geese at the pond" in the past, but the geese in recent years have been friendly and sociable.

He, too, thinks one of the new geese might be a "problem goose."

"This is the first year we've had anything like this, but this is the first year in many years that we've added new geese to the flock at the pond," he said.

"We'll see what the winter season brings in terms of what decisions we make about the flock."