Thanks to a Class of High School Seniors, this Canada Goose Has a Second Chance

By Ali Berman, Communications Manager

When Daria, a 17-year-old high school student in West Linn, went to the park with her environmental science class to plant native trees and remove invasive plants like ivy and blackberry, she knew she’d be spending the day restoring habitat and helping wildlife. She didn’t imagine that she’d end up personally rescuing a bird who, without intervention, would not have survived.

As most of her classmates made their way down a steep muddy hill, Daria, who had a broken toe, took the longer way around with a few friends. She then stumbled upon a lone Canada Goose swimming in a shallow patch of water. As geese are her favorite animals, Daria went to take a closer look and the goose, presumably used to being fed at the park, swam towards her.

Wildlife Care Center Staff treat Canada Goose found with fishing line around its neck.

It was at that point that Daria saw that something wasn’t right. “I saw the fishing line around its neck and I was like, ‘That’s not good,’ and then I saw that it was super tight and there was a huge lump on its throat. And I thought, ‘Well, this goose needs help.’”

And help it she did. The high school seniors were able to corral the goose up against a fence, at which point, Daria attempted to contain it. “I was able to grab him and once I grabbed him, I was like, I can’t let go now. I had one of my friends give me their jacket so I could put it over his head. When they are in darkness, they settle down.”

Next, the teacher approached the scene, initially confused by seeing one of his students holding a wild goose. And then, the teacher and students worked together to figure out next steps to get this bird the help it needed. One student called Bird Alliance of Oregon’s Wildlife Care Center, learned that they should not try to remove the fishing line themselves as that can result in injuring the bird further, and should bring the goose in for treatment. They wrapped the bird in a parka, brought it on the bus back to school, found a box, and then Daria drove it up to us.

When it arrived, Lacy Campbell, our Wildlife Care Center Manager, performed an initial exam, observing not only the fishing line, but also a large lump in its throat made up of food that could not be passed beyond the constriction. Lacy anesthetized the bird, cut off the fishing line, and attempted to massage the food down without success. More intervention would be needed, and so the goose was stabilized to prepare it for surgery the following day.

“There was fishing line wrapped around the neck that was preventing food from going from the mouth into the stomach,” explained Kelly Flaminio, the Wildlife Care Center’s new veterinarian. “We removed the fishing line but there was still damaged tissue that was causing a constrictive injury, not allowing the food to pass. I surgically opened the esophagus, pulled out a large amount of grass, corn, and other types of food material.”

The day after surgery the goose was offered food and water, and monitored carefully. She was seen eating and defecating normally – all great signs for recovery!

Veterinarian Kelly Flaminio and Wildlife Care Center Manager Lacy Campbell examine the Canada Goose a week after surgery.

As for why fishing line is so dangerous to waterfowl and other aquatic animals, Kelly noted, “Finishing line is very sharp, even sharper than dental floss. If the line gets wrapped around an animal and they start to struggle, the line will tighten and can cause significant injuries that can even lead to death.”

After this experience, Daria offered a piece of advice we’d like to share: “I fish myself and I always watched videos of people taking fishing line or Coke cans off animals. This is the first time I’ve actually witnessed it myself. So I’d say clean up because you never know what animal is going to get something caught around its neck. If we hadn’t found that goose it probably would have been dead in a couple days. We impact everything around us and we need to be aware of what we’re doing and be conscious of the wildlife around us.”

Every year the Wildlife Care Center treats 3,000 injured or orphaned native animals. If you would like to make a donation to support our wildlife rehabilitation work at the Wildlife Care Center, click here.

Photo by Tara Lemezis