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Stranded snow goose live trapped at Mirror Lake, handed over to Adirondack Wildlife Refuge

December 7, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A snow goose stranded at the Mirror Lake municipal beach for a week was live captured Monday and handed over to wildlife rehabilitators. It turns out the goose was injured more than previously thought.

John Bowe, of AuSable Forks, arrived at the beach area shortly before 9 a.m. Monday to set up a live trap. He's not a wildlife rehabilitator, just a good Samaritan who saw the need to save the goose, which he called Snowy. He swears it is the same goose he lived trapped in December 2012 and handed over to the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington.

"I knew it was the same goose," said Bowe, who noticed him at the beach house on Monday, Nov. 26. "I knew it was him. There's no doubt about it."

Article Photos

John Bowe gets ready to place canned corn inside a live trap before capturing an injured snow goose on the shore of Mirror Lake near the municipal beach Monday morning, Dec. 3. He named the goose Snowy.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Monday morning, Dec. 3, was warm with temperatures in the high 30s. Mirror Lake was covered with water, as it was about 40 degrees on Sunday and rained most of the day. It was good for the goose because he was finally able to eat grass that had melted around the tree trunks in the park; however, it also posed a threat because colder weather was forecast that afternoon and Bowe feared Snowy would get stuck in the water on Mirror Lake as it froze.

The tricky part was luring Snowy into the live trap. Bowe set up the trap on the shoreline, next to a picnic table on the tennis court side of the outlet. He draped a blanket over the trap and placed canned corn inside.

"When you put something over what they're in, it settles them down because they don't see all the stuff that's going on around them and they just settle right down, as he did on Monday when I put him in the car. He just sat back there and never moved," Bowe said.

It took about 20 minutes to get Snowy in the trap, but it wasn't easy. First of all, the door to the trap was on the lake side, so Bowe couldn't see when Snowy was all the way in the trap before closing the door with a 20-foot-long string. So he employed the help of a volunteer, known to him as Stan (last name unknown).

Stan arrived a little after 9 a.m. and told Bowe he could only stay for 20 minutes because he had another appointment. Stan's job was to cross the outlet on the bridge, stand next to the village's beach house, watch the front of the trap with binoculars and wave to Bowe when the goose was all the way in the trap.

Bowe's job was to wait on the nearby sidewalk, not getting too close to the trap, fearing that it would scare the goose, and look for Stan's wave. Once the wave came, Bowe would run over to the string, yank on it, and that would close the door.

As time went on, several passersby walking around the lake stopped to chat with Bowe, which made the goose nervous. One visitor was Lake Placid village traffic control officer Marty Perkins. The nervous goose, in turn, made Bowe nervous because Stan could only be there for 20 minutes.

Snowy walked behind the trap, then back to the front, stopping to make sure there wasn't anybody nearby.

"Eat the corn, Snowy," Bowe said multiple times. "Eat the corn."

Then, at exactly 9:20 a.m., Bowe saw that Snowy was all the way in the trap, and he scuffled over to the string and yanked. The door was shut.

"When I trapped him - I went down because I wanted to make sure the door was secure - I ran around to the front of the door, and he hit the door about two or three times," Bowe said. "I said, 'Hey, Snowy. Relax. Take it easy. Everything's OK.' And he went back to eating his corn like nothing ever happened."

Stan chatted with Bowe for a minute before leaving, and Perkins helped carry the trap to the back seat of Bowe's car.


Wildlife refuge

After driving Snowy to Wilmington, Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center owner/operator Wendy Hall suggested that a veterinarian examine the goose first, so Bowe drove it to the Eagle's Nest Veterinary Hospital in Plattsburgh, where Dr. Erik Eaglefeather looked at the bird. As of press time Wednesday morning, Hall said she was expecting to pick up the goose that afternoon and would know then exactly what was wrong. All she could say at the time was that Snowy was injured and had probably been shot.

Generally, Hall doesn't recommend that animals be trapped by the public, even though good Samaritans only have the best of intentions.

"As much as we like to think we can help everything, and everything wants to be human like us, that's not true," Hall said. "There are certain animals, if they're starving and kept in captivity for any period of time, they will start bashing into the cage to be released."

Often, people decide what's best for an injured animal, but Hall said that's not her way of doing things.

"In this goose's case, it was probably a good thing, but oftentimes, they don't agree with what we do. ... I'm not going to say it wasn't the right thing to do."

The problem with injured wildlife is that they have a harder time finding food than a healthy animal, and that can lead to starvation.

"The more injured it gets, the more it's likely to come in and look for food," Hall said. "All wildlife looks for food where they can get it, and that's why a goose will be on the shore, and then if it can go out, it will go out on the ice but it is constantly looking for food to survive. ... Then there's the fear that if it's in the water, its feet are going to stick to the water. Then you've got a dead goose."

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has a saying for people who see injured animals in the wild, especially young wildlife: "If you care, leave them there." When people encounter a young wild animal that is obviously injured or orphaned, the DEC recommends that they call a wildlife rehabilitator such as Hall for advice and help.

"Wildlife rehabilitators are trained volunteers licensed by the DEC," the DEC states on its website. "They are the only people legally allowed to receive and treat distressed wildlife. They have the experience, expertise and facilities to successfully treat and release wild animals. The goal of the rehabilitator is to release a healthy animal back into the wild, where it belongs."

Yet Hall says there are times when it makes sense to bring a sick animal to a wildlife rehabilitator.

"The mangy fox that we got from Lake Placid, which he's going to be released because he's beautiful now, had to come in," she said. "No. 1, mange is contagious and we can treat it. And it was starving to death and we can treat it, and we can release it some place in the wild."

Most of the animals treated at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge are starving, sick or have West Nile Virus or aspergillosis (infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by inhalation of the spores of fungi in the Aspergillus group), according to Hall.

As for Snowy, Hall will set up a habitat for him at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge. She said there's no way of knowing whether it is the same snow goose Bowe trapped in 2012. That time, Hall fed it, put it in a large enclosure and kept it there for a couple of months. Then, one day, it flew away. Based on the injuries she's seen, Hall said Snowy may fly again, but it probably won't be too far.



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