Dec 26 2010

And Then There Was One

Published by at 6:53 pm under Tidings from Gabriola Island

lonely goose on Gabriola

This lonely gander has lost his gaggle

During the past four years, this gander and his two male gaggle mates have terrorized our road. They staked out the intersection in front of their house and attacked anyone who ventured by: pedestrians, cyclists, even motorists. I gave up walking in their direction unless I was feeling particularly brave. Armed with a long stick to keep them at bay, I learned never to turn my back on them. That was the signal for an all-out attack. With necks and wings extended, honking furiously, they would fly up and try to bite as I ran screaming down the road.

When there were three (ganders)

When there were three (trespassing on a neighbor's lawn).

Their owner, unable to afford a proper enclosure for them—or enough food— let them loose to wander the neighborhood and fend for themselves. This spring, they made it as far as our place to forage for slugs. Once or twice, I was unable to leave our property without running the goose gauntlet on our driveway. In the hot, dry summers, without a pond or enough water to drink, they became even more aggressive and short-tempered.

The neighbors grumbled and complained, but the police refused to intervene, stating that they “didn’t do geese.” Irate letters to the editor got no response. The woman owner would take no responsibility. She claimed only that she had “rescued” these geese from slaughter by their previous owners. So, the three ganders patrolled our road unhindered. Until last summer.

The first of the trio, the aggressive ringleader, met his demise when a motorist barreling down the hill encountered the geese in the middle of the road, as usual, and was unable to stop in time. Then, last week, the  second one was murdered. The owner maintains that a motorist purposefully swerved onto her driveway and ran the gander down.

As much as we all loathed this mean feathered trio, I can’t help but pity the lone survivor. He seems bereft without his flock mates. I still hear him honking occasionally but his behavior has changed. When you approach him now, he no longer attacks; instead, he walks away looking forlorn. Of course, he still wanders down the middle of the road. I wonder how long this sad gander will last on his own?

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