A Fort St. James area family who rescued a goose only to have her seized by the Crown got her back last week thanks to a lot of uproar from concerned friends and even strangers.
“She’s a thriving, healthy, beautiful bird,” said her caregiver, Diane Vander Wiel.
The goose was rescued over two years ago when the Vander Wiel family observed a foundling chick on a back road near their home of Pinchi Lake.
“We were going fishing, we saw this yellow thing on the road,” Vander Wiel said, “she was probably a couple days old, and could have fit in the palm of your hand.”
The Vander Wiels watched Lucy for some time, thinking a bird family may be nearby and come back for the weak-looking chick that couldn’t quite walk straight. Then the family noticed an eagle circling, so they took the chick home, knowing it was just going to be a raptor’s meal if it was not looked after.
Vander Wiel said friends along with their family tried to guess at the species of the bird,
“Duck, swan … nope, we were all wrong,” she said.
The family recognized the grey feathers when they came in as belonging to a Canada goose. Lucy’s family thought they would take her to wild places to try and get her to go with her own kind, the Pinchi Lake resident noted.
“We even gave her a mirror so she would see she was a goose,” and identify with other geese, Vander Wiel said.
Then a few months ago a neighbour apparently complained to wildlife officials about a goose being in captivity and along came conservation officers to remove Lucy because it’s against the law to possess wildlife without a permit in Canada, Vander Wiel explained.
She alleges one of the conservation officers suggested she should have killed the bird, instead of taking it home to care for.
Vander Wiel is relieved the Federal Minister of the Environment heard the ruckus over the Lucy being apprehended made by friends and others from as far away as Europe and Australia via facebook messages and calls to officials.
Vander Wiel who had been promised a fine, was suddenly offered to apply for a permit to care for a wild bird, similar to which rescue stations are given.
She said the province was less than helpful, but that didn’t stop her from trying.
Vander Wiel credits Canada’s environment minister Peter Kent for speaking up on Lucy’s behalf.
“He even called to say he wishes the matter had been investigated better before they took Lucy away,” the grateful goose host said with obvious elation.
Once Lucy was brought back by officials Monday, January 16, she appeared to appreciate being back on the farm, splashing in a tub and keeping her family close by.
“She’s been following me around and won’t let me out of her sight,” Vander Wiel said.