Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hooks, Lines and Sinkers to a Goose?

(Photo:  Danny today at Harlem Meer. Is his distress due to wayward hooks, lines and sinkers?)

This morning I met with a Central Park Ranger in attempt to rescue Danny, the "loner" goose who has been at Harlem Meer more than a month.

I have been concerned about Danny for the past couple of weeks due to what seems some kind of blockage and/or inability to eat normally.

That concern escalated to near alarm when seeing Danny up close yesterday and noticing he had lost a significant amount of weight.   His sides appeared to be sunken in and his neck very thin.

Danny was so close to me yesterday that I was able to pet him and would have been able to grab him.  

In fact, Danny walked up to two other people and attempted to eat from their hands.  But inevitably, Danny dropped the offerings -- a pretty sure indicator that he is  suffering some kind of obstruction.

Unfortunately, with nothing to secure Danny in yesterday and two dogs with me, even had I been able to capture him, it would have been impossible to do anything beyond that.

Fast forward to today and the call to Park Rangers for help.

The "plan" was to meet, rescue Danny and bring him to the Wildbird Fund which serves as a small hospital for injured or sick wild birds.

But, of course, things don't always go according to plan or hope.

I arrived to the Meer before the park ranger.

Danny was in the water, but very close to the embankment.

I offered some food in effort to keep him close.  As usual, Danny was interested, but dropped most of it.

The "good news" is that Danny is still preening (good sign), doing some swimming on the water and is not totally debilitated. 

The "bad news" is that Danny is still preening, doing some swimming on the water and is not totally debilitated and helpless.  

These factors obviously make rescue difficult because when "threatened," Danny is capable of flight and escape on the water.

"Bob", (not his real name) the park ranger finally arrived with a pet carrier and a van.

But, he had to go to the Dana Center to request use of a fishing net.

When seeing the net, I thought it small for a Canada goose (or any large bird) as it seemed only adequate for a duck or pigeon.

But, Bob assured me he had used the same net successfully to capture geese with broken wings or who
were too weak to escape.

Danny was however, not at the point of actual death and was able to successfully maneuver out and away from the small net (although there were several very close attempts).

The ranger and I spent almost two hours trying to get Danny. But, each time the frightened goose would scramble away from the net at the last second and use his wings to get him out on the lake.  

We would wait for Danny to return to the embankment again, but it was inevitably the same scenario. 

The thing that most surprised me about this turn of events was not that Danny was able to escape (I didn't think him at the point of death, but did not want to wait around for that either), but that park rangers don't seem to be properly equipped for goose (or large bird) rescue -- unless the birds are severely debilitated or incapable of flight.

Certainly, park rangers are not equipped for goose rescue as USDA "Wildlife Services" are properly equipped for goose roundups and destruction any day or time of the year.

Just one more horrible irony to consider.

Still, the day was not a total loss or without any accomplishment.

While waiting for Bob to arrive, I found a wad of about 12 feet of fishing line in the water with a barbed hook on the end.

Grabbing the hook and line out of the lake, I then took it to an employee of Central Park Conservancy.

"THIS is the real menace to the wildlife on this lake as well as to the environment itself!" I said angrily. 

The young man took the line from me and answered, "Well, that is why we need volunteers like you to patrol the lakes and pick this stuff up."

I wanted to shout,  NO, that is why PARK RULES need to be ENFORCED AND THIS CRAP NOT LEFT AROUND TO CRIPPLE AND HARM WILDLIFE AND DAMAGE THE LAKE.!     But, I didn't answer.  They could tell from my body language what I thought about the "recreational fishing" at Harlem Meer.

Even at 11AM there were scores of kids and other people fishing all around the Meer, many of them throwing slices of white bread into the water which then attracted the ducks and even poor Danny.   

"Small wonder the birds and turtles wind up crippled with fishing line or embedded with hooks.  This is WHY the birds need rescue!" I said to the man from the Conservancy.

Meanwhile, the park ranger went to the people throwing bread on the water (to "attract fish") and advised them such was not allowed due to potential harm to water and birds.   The mother with two small kids pretended not to know the rules.

The ranger later told me privately that he agreed the fishing should not be allowed in Central Park as obviously it is not monitored properly and thus adds to the challenges of his job. -- A job that is apparently not easy unless the birds are moribund and have in his words, "given up."

I don't know and cannot prove what is the exact cause of Danny's obstruction and obvious distress.

But, it could certainly be fishing related -- which is my greatest concern for any geese who hang around Harlem Meer.

When a couple of years ago, many geese used to stay at the Meer during late summer and fall, at least three of them had been crippled by fishing line ensnared around the legs.  

But (as today), even a Park Ranger was unable to capture the maimed geese due to their ability to fly and escape.

(Last year a turtle was hooked at Harlem Meer. The turtle turned his head inside the shell and NO ONE knew how to remove the barbed hook and line.  This is the main reason I don't go to Harlem Meer during heavy fishing times. -- It is too upsetting and distressing.)

It seems geese have to be at the point of death to be successfully rescued. Something, once again, I personally did not want to wait for.

Was it a mistake calling the Rangers this soon?


But, we did get a big wad of fishing line and a barbed hook out of the water.

I just have to hope that this so-called "recreational fishing" in Central Park doesn't in fact represent the actual "hook, line and sinker" to Danny, the goose unable to eat for some sort of obstruction in his gullet.

Were I queen of the world, I would ban this crap yesterday for lack of enforcement of rules.

Park officials may request citizen enforcement and monitoring, but for one elderly woman this week in Central Park, such "citizen involvement" resulted in rape, assault and robbery.

Its not just geese and turtles who have to fear hooks, lines, sinkers -- and law breakers. 

It is humans, as well  --  PCA


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