I went on a wild goose chase Monday.
People who frequent Bellevue Park in Belleville have become concerned about an injured goose they keep seeing at the lake in the park.
The Canada goose has an injured leg. I could see its useless left foot splayed out behind it as it crouched on the ground.
A woman caller told me it also has some light fishing line wound around its throat. She worried that the line might be caught on the foot as well or some other object.
She was concerned for the goose and had called a bunch of different people trying to get it taken care of, but to no avail. Humane Societies and most Animal Control shelters only deal with domestic animals, not wildlife.
Some people have told her to capture it and they would take a look at it, but that is easier said than done. The caller said she had considered several ways to catch it, but they all came up short. She hoped she could get it at least long enough to cut the line.
Other agencies think that just leaving it alone may be best since the bird is surviving so far. It is able to fly and swim, it just can't walk very well.
The caller told me she thinks the goose looks weaker than it did last week, but I'm not sure how you measure that. He, or she, (you can't tell) let me approach within a couple of feet and then hopped away on one foot, making pretty good time. Eventually it flew a few feet, plopped down in the water and swam away.
The concerned woman is worried because the bird doesn't associate with the other geese and stays apart.
But Susan Birmingham, a volunteer with the Wildlife Rescue Center in Ballwin, Mo., said that if an animal is functioning and surviving, it may be best to leave it alone. Saving its leg may be impossible anyway, she said.
"If it has been at least a week, their bones are very light and hollow, so it probably is too late to do anything to save the leg," she said.
Besides, her center can't help Illinois wildlife, since geese aren't supposed to be taken across state lines, which seems a bit silly since they pretty much fly wherever they want to anyway. Birmingham refers Illinois callers to Treehouse Wildlife Center in Dow. No one there was available for comment on Monday.
People are compassionate and want to help but sometimes shouldn't when it comes to wild animals, Birmingham said.
"What's good for the animal is not always what we think," she said. "Half the time my job here is convincing people not to do anything."
Let me hear from you if you have an idea about how to help this bird.
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