A Canada goose that was sheltered by a horse after being attacked by an eagle was reunited with its nest mate and is recuperating at the Animal Care Hospital of Williams Lake.
Originally captured as a gosling with its sibling by a woman living on Fox Mountain, the two geese were living in a barn up until they escaped about three weeks ago.
Fox Mountain resident Peter Kitto was at home looking out the back window over his farm area on Thursday, Feb. 21.
Suddenly he saw a golden eagle doing a spin within a few feet outside the window.
“It was kind of fluky actually,” Kitto said. “It had just hit this goose and was coming around to attack it again and the goose landed right on the ground in my horse paddock.”
The goose was struggling on the ground and Kitto could see the eagle perched in the tree above watching it intently.
His property has a sloped hillside, covered in about three feet of snow, and the goose was trying to make its way down hill, Kitto explained.
“At the bottom corner of the paddock, my horses were hanging out and the goose made its way to the horses. One of the horses walked over toward the goose. The goose got in front of the horse’s two front legs, or the horse stepped on either side —I’m not quite sure — but it looked like the horse was taking care of the goose. It started nuzzling the goose and calming it down and the eagle stayed up in the tree watching and waiting.”
Kitto is in a wheelchair due to an injury from when he was a corrections officer in the Lower Mainland and has lived on Fox Mountain with his wife Anne since 2006.
He could not go outside to help the goose so he called his neighbour, who had come by earlier to clear the snow off Kitto’s wheelchair ramp, and asked if he would check out the goose.
His neighbour caught the goose and carried it inside Kitto’s house where the two men examined it, not finding any cuts or damage.
“Its feathers were a bit ruffled and that was about it, so I suggested he put it in his barn, offer it some food and water to give it a chance to recover,” Kitto said.
In the meantime, Anne had gone into town for an appointment at the hairdresser and was relating the goose story to the hairdresser.
It was then Anne learned that a woman on Fox Mountain had been keeping two geese in her barn and they’d escaped and that one had been found a few weeks earlier and was at the vet, but that the other goose was still on the loose.
Anne called her husband and filled him in.
Sue Burton, a volunteer in the Williams Lake area for Second Chance Wildlife Rescue Society, also lives on Fox Mountain and said she rescued the first goose about two and a half weeks ago after she received a call from a resident on Fox Mountain that it had been sitting on her porch all day.
“She came and picked me up so I could bring the goose home and the next day I took it to Dr. Magnowski. The goose was a little bit injured, but it was so tame.”
Eventually Burton learned there had been two geese and when she realized one was still missing she contacted the Conservation Officer Service.
COS Officer Jared Connatty went to look for the goose, but had no luck finding it.
So on Thursday, when Kitto’s neighbour heard the details about the separated geese, he contacted Burton.
Burton said Friday she wanted to remind the public it is not a good thing when wildlife imprint to humans.
“That’s why we are here, that’s why the COS is here, that’s why the vets are here,” she insisted.
For now the geese are staying at the animal hospital, and Burton said she is not sure what the plan is for them.
She has bought some food and is committed to clean out their stalls if it is possible for them to stay at the animal hospital until April.
“I have to phone the Vancouver Zoo to see if they can take them, but they don’t stay for more than a week when they go there,” she added. “The ones I’ve dropped off that have been habituated have lasted a week because when other geese come they end up flying away with them and you never see them again.”