By Gerry Kruse

In our hearts and our minds, we were doing a good thing. It seemed that nature had called on us to rescue a couple of God’s beautiful creatures. Or perhaps “beautiful” isn’t the word; the word “adorable” seems to have been coined just to describe the two baby geese who used to follow us everywhere. We loved them like few other things we had ever encountered.

Photo by Jim Robertson

And then, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources officer came and took them away from us. And he told us that we were breaking the law.

The story begins in early May. My friend Laura and I were sitting outside her apartment, which looks out on a golf course in Farmington Hills. One of the course rangers came by and showed us that there was an abandoned baby goose just a few yards away. It was a fuzzy little yellow thing with oversized webbed feet. He reminded us of a walking tennis ball with a little black bill.

Of course we immediately took the little guy around to every mating pair of adult geese we could find. We were trying to find his parents, or at least a pair of adults who would take him in. But the adults hissed and drew back their broods, and our hatchling began following us when we backed away.

We were just going to have to take him under our own featherless wings. We didn’t know quite how we were going to do it, but we had to protect this little one.

There are a number of Canada Geese living around this golf course. And at this place, they are often treated with wide-open hostility. They’re chased by people driving golf carts and harassed with firecrackers. There is talk of people smashing their eggs and of other horrors. We can only imagine what left this one without parents.

Laura immediately went on the internet to learn what our lost boy would need, and we started improvising extra food and shelter for this baby. But it was easy to learn what to do just by looking around us. All we had to do was let him live like a new goose. This consists largely of walking around, grazing in the grass and growing.

The biggest effort involved the fact that he’d “imprinted” on us. It’s amazing how many people know what this term means; it’s the psychological instinct that leads creatures like this to follow whomever is perceived to be their parents. So our little guy needed to know where we were at all times. If not, he’d start peeping in an alarmed way (and, of course, we’d run to him like we would to a crying baby).

We had fallen in love with our little goose, and we gave him all we had.

The second goose came to us about a week-and-a-half later. Some kids we know had found her wandering in the parking lot at the complex. Now we had two babies; but more importantly, as it turned out, they had each other. You’ve never seen such brotherly-sisterly love as what developed between these two adorable orphans. We were thrilled for them. And even though the effort in watching out for them could be a strain, we felt we were doing good. It was a wonderful feeling. It was a beautiful thing.

And just for the record, we knew very well we’d have to part with our new charges once they were grown. We decided we’d face that when the time came. But on June 7, as we were sitting out watching them, an employee of the property brought DNR officer Green up in a golf cart.

We were illegally “rehabilitating” the geese, according to this fellow. Suddenly, we were wrong. We were criminals. Laura was ticketed and now faces a court date. And this blank-faced official, who was so efficiently delivered right to the door, took the kids.

Laura was crushed; she almost literally cried her eyes out. Our spirits were badly wounded. And a horrible, cynical phrase I’d once heard now keeps echoing through my head: “no good deed ever goes unpunished.”

So now the geese have been taken away to some “shelter” to be “rehabilitated” in the state’s warm, loving way. I can’t help thinking that they’ll be submitted to some sort of deprogramming process so that they’ll never again go near any human who can’t show them a badge or a permit – or perhaps a gun.

Our original little guy didn’t ask to see our permit. He was newly hatched and didn’t know any better than us ignorant humans that we were required to have one. But the officials we don’t know, in the many and various levels of government we’ve got, have created whole libraries full of laws and regulations most of us have never heard of.

And, as it turns out, we the people had better not put our grubby, unlicensed hands on any of the government’s geese.

Sharon Pawlak is the National Coordinator of the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese,

[Editor’s note: No doubt, they have been taken to a happy hunting ground – a wildlife management area for increasing “game” species – so sad.]


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561