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Woman rescues wounded goose

Linda Hiller

It takes all kinds to make a world. There are the hunters and there are the hunted.

Sometimes, hunters are lousy shots, which creates the need for the rescuers, who then take care of the wounded.

Last Thursday evening, receptionist Terri Hamann became a rescuer after she left work from the office of Minden dentist, Jay Marriage, who also happens to be a hunter.

Hamann was headed down County Road , when she saw “a shape roll into the bushes” on the dark road.

After stopping her car and going to investigate, she saw that the shadowy shape was a Canada Goose. Rather than leave it lying there, Hamann bent down to pick it up, and the goose hopped into her lap and started honking.

“I was wearing a white cashmere outfit, and noticed right away that there was blood everywhere,” she said. She put the injured bird into her car and returned to Marriage’s office, where receptionist Brenda Burt was still working.

“I told Brenda, ‘I think a goose has been hit by a car,'” Hamann recounted. “Brenda saw us and immediately went and got a pink sweatshirt and put it on the goose so its injured wing wouldn’t flop around.”

Then the two called nearby Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital, and talked them into taking a gander at the goose. Veterinarian Thom Haig was on duty.

“He said ‘Let’s clean her up and do an X-ray,'” Hamann said, adding that at that time Haig told them it looked like the goose had been shot, and treatment could cost approximately $300.

“We were both crying, trying to decide what to do, and the goose had her head down on the table, but we didn’t want to leave her there,” she said. “I think dealing with us was probably 10 times worse for Dr. Haig than working on the goose.”

Haig said the clinic is not necessarily in the business of treating wildlife.

“But the goose was there, and the women were upset,” he said.

As it turned out, Haig and staff from the hospital stayed and treated the goose and didn’t charge Hamann and Burt.

“I think he felt so bad for us that he didn’t know who was hurt more – us or the goose,” Hamann said. “It was so nice of them to do it.”

Haig said it turned out the bullet injury to the bone of his feathered patient’s wing was a simple fracture which didn’t require surgery.

“We splinted the bone and feel it has a good chance of healing so the bird can fly again,” he said.

The next day, when Hamann and Burt returned to visit the goose, Haig warned them not to put their hands in front of the bird’s beak as she had previously tried to bite a cat at the clinic.

“She was so sweet, though,” Hamann said. “She put her head down and didn’t try to bite or hiss at all. It was almost like she knew we were her friends.”

After recovery, the goose will be released back into the wild.

Canada Geese are the most common wild goose in North America. There are many subspecies found in various geographical locations, and most do migrate in and out, forming their large noisy V-formations.

In more temperate locations and especially in milder winters, the geese may overwinter and not migrate. Such is the case in the Carson Valley, where Canada Geese can often be seen year round. Mated pairs will stay together for life, and if one is killed, the other may or may not pair up again.

Saturday, Hamann said she was driving in the Valley when she saw her employer and a friend out hunting geese in a field near Mottsville.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she mused. “So, I honked my horn to warn the geese and hope that they’d escape.”

Did it work?

“No, and I don’t think I’ll be getting my raise now,” she said with a laugh. Hamann has worked in Marriage’s office for more than four years. Her husband is also a hunter, but doesn’t hunt geese.

Injured wild animals are generally protected by state and federal wildlife laws. Haig said he had been in contact with the Nevada Division of Wildlife, since Canada Geese are a protected species, and had received permission to rehabilitate and release the bird.

If you encounter a wild animal that needs help, contain it in a small enough box or container that prevents the animal from further injuring itself, do not feed and call Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, 588-3710 or (530) 577-2273.