Question from Debbie in Hudson, QC

A Canada Goose has obviously been wounded, its wing hangs down on one side and is unable to fly. If we approach it, it heads into the lake and we don’t know how we can catch it. Do you have any suggestions?

It is so hard to watch this happening and simply stand by. Unfortunately, as much as you want to catch the goose it is determined you are not going to. The lake offers it safety and a rapid retreat happens as soon as it feels threatened. Also a frontal assault reinforces that you are a threat, so instead, set up a feeding station. There are a few considerations. The end goal is capture with the bird caught in either a wire cage or trapped in a fenced area. It also needs to be where the bird has easy access and the food is visible. If necessary start feeding it closer to the lake and slowly move the food source to your chosen site. Cracked corn, mixed grains and even wild bird seeds are suitable foods. If you have snow already covering the grass, any greens are a great treat. Spinach and lettuce also show up well as a cue to the bird that food is available.

The trap can be a wire dog crate and Le Nichoir has one that can be borrowed. Food is offered at the doorway and then moved into the cage once the bird is comfortable with the arrangement. These open wired crates are great because they don’t look like a trap. When you set the crate up you also need to consider a place that you can hide for the final day. The door of the crate should have a long rope tied to it such that it can be pulled shut once the goose is in the trap. The other method that can be used is a fence corner and a gang of friends. The food can be placed in the corner and once the bird is acclimated to the site, you invite your friends for coffee. They have to earn it and that means tackling the goose while making sure it does not escape. Geese are fast learners and if you blow the attempt, it may be very hard to entice the now wary goose back to your food sites.

It can be quite daunting tackling a large and very obviously frightened bird. Geese will use their wings to defend themselves, so this is the action we need to restrict. Use large towels or blankets to throw over the bird. Hold the bird down while you get yourself organized. Tuck the towel around and under its body, pinning the wings to its body. Hopefully you now have a very grumpy goose in hand. Don’t worry about its head, the hissing is scary but only a threat. If it does bite it does not break the skin, but you might end up with a ‘love bite’ bruise! It can then be transported in any large box or crate. Finally you need to get the goose to a rehab centre.

The easiest catch I have ever heard of was a goose crash landing in a horse paddock and was then herded into a stall. She had one pellet visible on X-ray, recovered and was released a week later.