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Old 04-22-2009, 10:03 PM
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Default Three men and a gosling

Not me...friend of a friend...long read, but I thought it was an interesting story

Three men and a gosling

A funny thing happened over the weekend I thought worth sharing. I was going to just send out a couple photos, but soon realized they would neither make much sense nor be as much fun without a bit of context.

So, the short version of this story might go something like this: I was floating down the Yakima River on Friday with some friends when a baby goose pirated my kayak and demanded I be his mother for the weekend.

The long version of the story involves three dudes on a camping weekend scratching their heads wondering how they got stuck holding this short straw. Have you ever seen “Three Men and a Baby”? It was like that… Only a little different.

When we first saw the little guy (we ended up naming him Lester), he was frantically swimming upstream, swept away into a fast part of the river, unable to fly, and screaming, err… peeping, like a banshee. There were no siblings or mother around, and when he saw our boats coming he was in desperate need of a break. I learned this because although I did my best to get on one side of him and sort of shuttle him toward a slow section, instead of moving away from me he made every effort to shimmy up and into my boat. He showed no fear of me – only fear of having to swim another lonely and exhausting stroke. I put out a hand to see what he would do and he jumped right up. I put him in my lap and he didn’t move or make a sound until we paddled back into our camp.

That’s when the head scratching began. Some confusing questions emerged that deflated all manly air of confidence usually heard around a “guys weekend” campfire.

“What do we do now?”
“Don’t look at me.”
“Should I let him go?”
“You can’t. He smells like humans now.”
“Isn’t that a myth?”
“Well, the coyotes will get him for sure.”
“Probably shouldn’t have picked him up in the first place.”
“What do they eat?”
“Are we sure it’s a goose?”
“Is this considered an emergency?”
“I know!”
“What?”
“I’ll call Morgan. She’ll know what to do.”

And she did. I called and left a message that night. By morning, I had a long, detailed voice message with well-researched feeding instructions, a sleeping how-to, gosling likes and dislikes, how to attempt a covert reunion with the mother if possible, a phone number and address for PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) – it was basically an abbreviated “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” for goslings in voicemail format. Exactly what we needed.

After a few more phone calls to PAWS and a wildlife veterinarian in Ellensburg, all was restored. It turns out goslings are self-feeders that gobble up grass and river water, and basically just need warmth and protection from predators until they can be brought in to an animal hospital or welfare center.

In hindsight I laugh to think I was worried he might have run away or something. I learned first-hand that what they taught us in psychology class is true; imprinting does, in fact, work with humans. It works well. And it works extremely fast if you rescue a poor guy from the perils of a raging river. Case in point: for the next twenty-four hours I heard incessant, if not polite, peeping anytime I wandered more than three feet from the little guy. Whether tying my shoes, building a fire, brushing my teeth, you name it (ahem), he was waddling close behind. I tried to explain the concept of “private time” but he had none of it. He even followed me fishing, finding a comfortable spot in the calm, back eddy that my legs made while standing in the moving water. Thankfully, he got more and more comfortable with his situation, and by the end of the weekend he peeped less and was happy with any of us guys, as long as he was in familiar territory.

So, with new caretaking knowledge and an expanded understanding of what we were up against, we saw no reason to have it ruin our trip. So I put him back in the kayak for more paddling. We traveled over twenty miles of river this weekend and he was in my boat for almost all of it. But even though he grew more comfortable with me as the weekend wore on, he never grew comfortable with rough water (understandable, given his previous experience). So, he kept watch from the bow or high in the cockpit, and used his peeps for alarm (or in extreme cases an errant bowel movement), to steer me clear of the bumps along the way. Aye aye, captain.

I brought him back home with me yesterday afternoon, happy to share with Rachael and Brielle for a night. Then, I took him to PAWS this morning where he is finally in the hands of professionals (thank God). They confirmed that it was a gosling and told me they would raise him for a while and eventually release him back into the wild. They also told me that it was only a week old, which made him just four days old when he first boarded my vessel – far too young to get tangled up in a pirate’s life on the Yakima. So, I hope we did the right thing by taking him in as “one of the guys” for the weekend. He never did learn to smoke that cigar we forced on him, but I’ll give him an A+ for the rest of his male bonding skills.



More photos here if you’re interested

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Old 04-22-2009, 10:49 PM
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Thats pretty cool. I was just watching last night this show about a guy in Alaska that lives with bears. Pretty wild how bonding can happen when theres no threat.
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Old 04-23-2009, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by jim putman View Post
Thats pretty cool. I was just watching last night this show about a guy in Alaska that lives with bears. Pretty wild how bonding can happen when theres no threat.
Didn't that guy end up getting killed by the bears????
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Old 04-23-2009, 05:27 PM
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Didn't that guy end up getting killed by the bears????

Not in the episode I watched but they showed previews of when some grizliys (sp) came to visit
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jim putman View Post
Not in the episode I watched but they showed previews of when some grizliys (sp) came to visit
Are you talking about The Grizzly Man Diaries?
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:05 PM
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Are you talking about The Grizzly Man Diaries?
This was like "living with bears" or something like that. This guy owned a chunk of land with a large cabin that the bears came to.
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