A gaggle of geese marked for death was goose-napped in a clandestine operation on Honeymoon Lake on Wednesday night.
According to several witnesses, a group of people who wanted to save the waterfowl from impending doom rounded them up and carted them off to a safe location. The geese are currently molting and can’t fly, so catching them is relatively easy.
But details of the goose heist are slim. The operation was apparently top secret out of concern about the possible legal ramifications of stealing wild geese.
“They are in a safe place,” is all lake resident Theresa Delap would say.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident. A man who owns a house on the lake called 911 from his home in Bellevue at just after 8 p.m. to report the waterfowl abduction, according to Island County Sheriff Mark Brown.
The man claimed that about 15 people were netting geese on the lake and had trespassed on his yard, but the crowd was gone when the deputy arrived. The deputy interviewed witnesses who said the geese were taken away in a dog carrier. One of the goose-nappers claimed to have permission from a federal agency to take the geese, but the deputy found that may not be true.
The deputy reported the incident to a Fish and Wildlife agent for possible investigation. A spokesperson from the agency, however, said they aren’t investigating.
Aristana Firethorne, a South Whidbey resident and animal advocate, said the people who took the geese had permission from a property owner and did not trespass on any other property. She would neither confirm nor deny that she was present at the operation.
Several residents of the Freeland-area lake and many others in the community were upset about plans to have the four adults and three goslings killed because they were leaving droppings on lawns.
The community board voted to contract with Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to have 19 geese on the lake killed last year. Again this year, they planned to have seven newly-arrived geese done away with. The killings could have happened at any time.
Delap said the pair of geese without goslings had left the lake recently, so only one pair and their three goslings remained to be rescued.
Firethorne said she hopes that the community will continue to pressure the Honeymoon Lake board to find alternative solutions to killing nuisance geese in the future. Changes in landscaping or fencing can prevent geese from walking onto lawns.
In fact, Firethorne said a landscaping firm offered to help lake residents goose-proof their yards for free.
As for the lucky goose-napping “victims,” their whereabouts remain unknown.