Oil-covered goose recovered from Lake Ontario
Monday, April 2, 2018, 8:01 AM - A Canada goose is recovering at the Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge in Jarvis, Ont., after being found on Lake Ontario covered in what appeared to be crude oil.
The bird was in distress when it was first discovered on March 21 by Hamilton's Port Authority. Authorities contacted the refuge for assistance as the goose was not able to fly or walk.
"I brought my team down to Hamilton Animals Services so that we could use their facility to wash the goose," said Chantal Theijn, authorized wildlife custodian with Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge. "I have had a fair bit of experience with crude oil and this very much resembled crude oil to me, which is kind of what raised my concern because the way that the goose was covered, it very much appeared to me that he had swam through it."
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In an email sent to The Weather Network, Hamilton's Port Authority expressed that they are uncertain where the bird picked up the oil and that there was no trace of the substance where the goose was originally located. They also noted that waters around the port are monitored closely for sheen, discolouration or other indicators of pollution.
"Is there a random patch of crude oil floating around on Lake Ontario was kind of my thought," said Theijn. "Luckily we haven't had any other calls for oil-covered waterfowl since from that location. Sometimes these things are a one-off, sometimes spills are very minor."
Theijn noted that if they hadn't reacted quickly, the goose would of most likely died.
"They will try to preen themselves and as a result they will ingest the crude oil, which will kill them."
The refuge has found wildlife covered in other substances, including gasoline, diesel and oil from a deep fryer.
"This happens when restaurants dump their frying oil, and of course it's very attractive to animals," she said.
The goose was scrubbed clean and given some activated charcoal paste, as well fluids to help absorb any toxins.
After about 48 hours the goose was able to walk again and rehabilitation has been quite steady since, according to Theijn.
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Theijn highlighted that washing wildlife is no easy task and that it should be left to the professionals.
"This is not something people can just attempt at home. In particular, we need to be very specific about what the compound is that the animal is covered in, because there is a different approach for each."
The goose is now ready for release. Theijn hopes to return the bird to the exact location it was originally found as the goose had a mate.