By Natalie Covher
If you’ve lived in Natchitoches long you’ve inevitably had an encounter with the iconic geese that frequent The City of Natchitoches’ downtown riverbank. If you are lucky they might even have chased you a time or two.
This is the story of one very lucky goose who lived to see Cane River Lake again after a run in with a motorized vehicle, all thanks to the help he received from a group of Natchitoches residents.
The geese in our town are so well known there’s a sign near the Keyser bridge, placed in effort to help drivers notice animals of the avian variety crossing over to their favorite stretch of the river. Many of us have sat in our vehicles tapping the steering wheel waiting for the geese to make their way safely across the road near the Intersection of Keyser and Williams Avenue.
Sadly, on Nov. 8, someone driving a silver four door sedan was either too distracted or too impatient to notice and struck one of the notorious geese. The driver that drove through the gaggle of geese didn’t slow down or stop.
After being hit the male goose tried to catch up with the two female geese that had made it to the other side of the road but once he got to the grass, he sat down and stayed put. I had to stop and check on him. It wasn’t long until more vehicles stopped and people came out of businesses to see what had happened. Soon phones were ringing and buzzing all over Natchitoches to see who could help the injured bird.
Being a Sunday, animal control, Wildlife and Fisheries and most veterinary offices were closed. Looking at a goose wrapped in a blanket, Monday seemed too far away to wait. Luckily, Haley Blount Taitano had Dr. Joey Bynog’s number. The group of us helped the goose into a kennel and into the back of Jesse Taitano’s SUV for the ride to Good Hope Veterinary Clinic. Upon arrival Dr. Bynog gave him an x-ray and reported that the goose (now known as Lucky) had no broken bones. However, Lucky was suffering from soft tissue injuries and possibly internal injuries.
An interesting bit of information discovered during the exam is the Goose has been shot in the neck in the past and healed. Once stabilized and on pain meds the tough old bird settled in for some much needed rest before being released on Nov. 12.
And there was a special moment as the group prepared to release Lucky back to the banks of Cane River. As soon as Lucky was outside, he called out and two geese replied from the water’s edge. They came swiftly up toward where Lucky was after Dr. Bynog released him. It was a sweet reunion for the trio, who quickly made their way back to the water.
Lucky was identified as a domesticated Swan Goose. These geese do not travel far from the lake or river they call home. Species of birds like Lucky are unlikely to reach these areas on their own and are more likely to have been purchased and placed by people. Natchitoches is home for these geese. It is up to us to share it with them and watch out for them like good neighbors. Please watch for them when driving and be patient as they cross the road. Community efforts like the one to save this bird are the reason many of us are proud to call Natchitoches home. Please avoid activities like balloon releases that harm geese like Lucky and other wildlife living in and around the beautiful Cane River Lake. Opt for snacks like vegetable trimmings, cracked corn, oats, rice, cut grapes when feeding waterfowl for fun. If we all work together, we can ensure Natchitoches continues to be a great place for all things big and small to call home.