Rescued Wildlife – Better off dead?

Goodbye, Goose Goose.

David Greene’s recent article on Pet Connection, detailing the seizure of an ‘illegal’ Finch rescued by Philadelphia woman Patti Mattrick, reminded me of an all too similar situation here in Ontario.

Goose Goose the Canada Goose was rescued by the Ward family, of Dream Acres Farm in Perkinsfield, Ontario. Goose Goose had an ‘angel wing’ – a fanciful term for what was, essentially, a non functioning formerly broken wing. He was about to be eaten by a cat when Mae Ward found him, brought him home, and nursed him back to health. The Wards, who have a large pond and wetlands area on their farm, hoped that Goose Goose might eventually be able to find a mate. Goose Goose had the run of Dream Acres Farm, roaming the property during the day, and sleeping safely in a barn at night. Goose Goose would regularly wander out to the front of the Ward’s property, foraging along the ditches that line their road. A passing motorist saw the crippled goose, and phoned the local OSPCA office, even though he’d been told by a neighbour that Goose Goose lived at the nearby farm.

When Mae Ward was informed by the same neighbour that the OSCPA had picked up Goose Goose, she immediately phoned their offices. She was hoping to hear good news – that Goose Goose would either be allowed to live out his life at the Ontario SPCA Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in nearby Port McNicoll, or that he’d be returned to her family farm. Instead, she was told that the OSPCA planned to euthanize Goose Goose.

From the Simcoe News:

Maureen Dool, manager of the OSPCA in Midland, told The Mirror staff were merely complying with the rules instituted by Canadian Wildlife Services and the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“A Canada goose is a migratory bird … under the Migratory Bird Convention Act, (which) is federal legislation that applies to almost every bird in Ontario,” she explained, adding rehabilitators are required to have a permit to keep and treat any migratory bird.

“The public cannot posses, buy or sell migratory birds,” she continued. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance where people have had the bird and didn’t know they were doing wrong, but the bird was reported to us as being injured and, when it came into our facility, it definitely was a migratory bird that was injured. We are just complying with what we have to do.”

My favorite quote from Ms. Dool comes from her interview on CBC News radio, where she says “Wild animals don’t belong locked up”. I suppose no one ever told her about these things we have called ‘zoos’. I also enjoyed the part where she obliquely threatened to have the Ward family charged for having harbored a migratory bird, and insinuated that they were ‘lucky to have gotten off so lightly’.

Killing a bird that was, essentially, a family pet is just the sort of thing that an SPCA currently reeling from the PR fall out of their concurrent ringworm death camp fiasco should be going out of their way to avoid. Threatening legal action against the heartbroken family who’ve just had their pet Goose killed is the final nail in the proverbial PR coffin.

While I understand that rules regulating the ownership of wildlife and of migratory birds exists for a reason, I fail to follow the logic that says that animals are better dead than in the safe place they are currently being housed. Flexibility, compassion and just plain old fashioned common sense could go a long way to avoid these kinds of situation, and the ensuing bad press that inevitably follows.