May 2, 2013

First Response

by Lindsay Marshall

A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon Wildlife Emergency Services' blog, and as I read I thought, how does one get involved in doing this amazing work?

I'm the mom of two boys, age 7 and 10. My life is made up of a lot of laundry, dishes, and refereeing fights, so I'm always on the lookout for things I can do to keep myself sane. I also want to do something that feels really important, not frivolous.

As a kid, I wanted to become a zookeeper, but my Dad persuaded me to find something more "practical". Now, as I am rounding the corner on age 50, I still want to work with animals, just not always my two human ones.

When I saw that 
Wildlife Emergency Services (WES) was offering a training on how to safely rescue wild animals, I jumped on it.

The all-day class was filled with volunteers from various Bay Area humane societies and animal groups, and a few people like me. 
After the class, I registered to be an on-call volunteer. That was it. The rest of my training would be in the field. Wow!

It wasn't long before I received a text from WES about a potential rescue, asking me to check out a goose with an unidentified bit of plastic stuck on it's wing in Redwood Shores, not far from my home. I was really excited. My first mission.

I went out to take a look for the goose, but it wasn't there. I was asked to check again the following day.

The next day, I was pleasantly surprised that my husband and the youngest of my two boys were interested in helping me find the goose.

After about an hour of searching the park and scanning with binoculars we started to get ready to leave, when off in the distance I saw a lone Canada goose flying in, and I could see a flash of red on its wing. Yes! That's the Goose! We were so excited!

It didn't take long for it to join other geese in the parking lot. Up close, I could see clearly that this plastic thing was a kite handle and there was still a bit of string attached to it.

I reported my findings to Rebecca Dmytryk, who was coordinating the rescue, and she asked if I could continue visiting the area to get the goose used to being approached by people. Once the goose was predictable, they would send 
Deanna, WES' goose expert, to try and capture it.

I went to the location every day as I was assigned, and as each day passed, my family became more and more interested in coming along with me to look for the goose and to see the other birds in the area. I was concerned that my normally loud and rambunctious boys would spoil my efforts, so, the first day they came along, I made them stay in the car and watch.

Over the next week, the goose, which we believe is female, got pretty used to seeing us. Everyday, as I drove up, she came swimming or walking up to meet us, even my youngest son. It was really rewarding to see him be quiet enough and still enough to allow the goose to come close to him.

The boys also got to see a lot of other birds, including goslings. They were all around.

One day, we brought our family pet Gabbi with us. She's a Welsh Harlequin duck. She loved the water there. The other ducks and the geese didn't seem to mind her, but she was ready to come home after about an hour.

By the end of the week, the goose seemed to be comfortable with us, so Deanna made plans to drive up from Hollister to attempt a capture.

I was really excited to watch a goose capture, but, as it often goes when you are dealing with wildlife, their plan may not fit in with your plan. 
We waited all afternoon and the goose never showed.

We teamed up again the following week and Deanna was able to get close to the goose, but not close enough, but we're not done trying. 

The kite handle found its way onto this goose's wing because of humans, so I feel it's our duty to remove it and I feel really privileged to be part of this rescue mission. I'm glad it's one that's taking some time to get it right. I am learning a lot, and it's a great way to teach my kids about nature and about doing the right thing.

To sign up to be an on-call First Responder with WES go HERE, or, to be notified of upcoming training courses, email admin (at)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, how I wish there were more people parenting their children as you are. You rock.