TRANSCRIPT: Goose roaming Yakima parks with dart in its neck is on WDFW’s radar

YAKIMA, Wash. — KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell spoke with Staci Lehman, Communications Manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), regarding a goose that’s been spotted near Randall Park in Yakima with a dart stuck in its neck. While this may be jarring for Yakima parkgoers who spot the bird, Lehman and the WDFW crew thinks the animal is better off without interference.

The following is a transcript of Lehman’s conversation with Goodell, our Yakima Bureau Chief.

Stacey Melton Goose Photo

(Photo of the Yakima Dart Goose provided by Stacy Melton)

Can you tell me about the situation?

“We started receiving calls from the public about – it’s been almost two weeks ago now – regarding a goose at Randall Park that had a blow dart through its neck. People were very concerned, you know, which is understandable, absolutely. I have a biologist who has responded and he’s been monitoring the goose throughout this time. What we’re finding is that it is still moving around, it’s eating, it’s flying, it’s drinking water. So at this point, we do not plan to capture it or do anything like that and remove the dart because as long as wildlife are still functioning normally on their own, it’s usually easier on them to let them continue doing what they’re doing than try to trap them and sedate them which is very hard on animals, and then remove the dart. So as long as it’s functioning well, then we’ll continue to monitor and let it do its thing. We understand that’s hard for members of the public to see, especially in a park like Randall Park is very busy. So we have received many calls. But it is the most responsible course of action at this time. If we do notice that the goose is going downhill, we may try to capture it, which is also it’s hard to capture a wild goose, by the way. They do fly when you try to get near them, so that’s a challenge. So if we do notice that it’s going downhill, though, or it’s deteriorating, we will decide what the next course of action is. And that may involve a wildlife rehabbers.”

Is this a bigger problem or isolated incident?

“There’s a rumor that there may be a duck in the area with a similar situation, but nobody has really confirmed that so I don’t know for sure. But other than that, we get occasional calls, turkeys, wild turkeys with an arrow in them or this or that it’s not uncommon to tell you the truth, which is unfortunate, you know, in the case of a turkey with an arrow, it’s generally a hunting incident where the hunter didn’t finish the job. In the case of this blow dart, you know, who knows, but we do discourage that, you know, please don’t hurt our wildlife.”

Was it an accident?

“It’s hard to say you know, maybe it was kids messing around in a park. Either way, probably a park is not the safest workplace to be using a blow dart in general. And we do ask people if they know anything about this incident or any incidents where wildlife is being harassed, they report them to us. We have a you people can email report poaching@dfw.wa.gov or they can call 877-933-9847 if they see anything like this happening, or they have information on and it doesn’t have to be just poaching it can be any kind of harassment or injury to an animal.”

Is this a local goose?

“It’s hard to speculate on that but it is with a group of younger ones that apparently appear to not have bred this year. So they are seem to like they’ve been hanging around the area for a little while. So we suspect it was in the area probably when it happened.

What are the penalties for something like this if you can find the person who did it?

 “There are definite, you know, it would depend on what the circumstances were generally, these kinds of cases, they’re very hard to solve unless somebody saw it or there’s a camera around. So it would depend on the circumstances. There’s fines, you know, in extreme cases, there’s jail time, things like that. So it would really depend and I don’t have off the top of my head like I couldn’t tell you what a fine would be or what jail time would be. But that we you know, we do have an enforcement arm of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and they do investigate situations like this regularly.”

How big of a problem is this?

“In the whole scheme of things, I would say it’s not. It doesn’t appear that there’s like a ring of people doing this or anything like that. It does. It does appear to be maybe, you know, probably a one time thing. So we’re aren’t super worried. We haven’t had others reported to us. Like I said, There’s a rumor that there is potentially a wounded duck as well, but nobody’s confirmed that we haven’t found it. So probably just a one off thing. But again, that park is heavily used so maybe somebody’s out there who saw it.”

Does that group of geese only congregate in that area of Yakima or could this have happened elsewhere?

“Yeah, they seem to be pretty much centered on that park right now. That doesn’t mean that they don’t like I said, when you approach that good still they fly, they fly a little distance or they fly a little further, whatever. So they they’re moving around the area a little bit that park seems to be their main place where they’re hanging out right now.”

Have you gotten any reports from anyone in the Yakima community saying they saw it happen?

“We just have had a lot of calls from concerned people wanting to report it. And another thing is, you know, we’ve also had people say, Hey, I’m going to go out and try to help it. And to that, we say please, please do not that ends up causing a lot more problems a lot of the time. There are laws saying that, you know, everyday people can’t transport wildlife. And also sometimes the animal ends up more injured when you try to capture it, or the human ends up injured. Geese can put up quite a fight as a lot of people know. So you don’t want to try to go grab one and then also, you know, we have an outbreak of avian influenza in Washington state and all over the country right now. So we don’t encourage people to handle any kind of wildlife now if they can help it. I mean, we always say that, you know, safest bet is not to – to prevent yourself from getting injured, the  animal from getting injured or potentially taking up a disease. So best thing to do is if somebody sees an injured animal, just report it to us.”

Should people be feeding the goose?

“No, and they shouldn’t be. You know, in general, we understand like everybody loves to feed birds in particular because I like to watch him and it’s especially like during the pandemic, we were all sitting at home. You know, we all were just kind of watching our bird feeders all day, but in general, we discourage feeding wild animals. Bread isn’t something that is really actually good for geese. So let them do their thing and please don’t feed them and then it also habituates them to humans. You keep feeding them and then when you know maybe a mother with a child approaches and they don’t have bred and that animal might get aggressive. So in general, we ask you to please not feed wildlife. It does end up you know, a lot of the time it ends up with an animal being euthanized.”

Anything else?

“Just that we encourage people to please not hurt wildlife. I mean, in addition to, you know, the strain that it puts on an animal or kills it, you know, it’s a lot of resources that need to then end up being put into answering calls from the public and investigating and you know, checking on the animals. So just, you know, treat our wildlife like, you know, the resource that they are.”

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