I want to say right up front that I’m no expert on wildlife matters. This is a story about a single personal experience. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please consult with your local humane society before taking any action. You don’t want to injure the goose further, and you certainly don’t want to injure yourself.

Got it? Good.

I got an excited call from my significant other earlier today. “Wanna help me catch a goose?” Odd request coming in the middle of the day, no? And here I thought she was calling to ask if I wanted to grab some lunch.

Turns out she found a goose wandering around in traffic. It looked a bit dazed, she thought. Upon closer inspection, she noticed that the goose had one eye that had turned white, and sign that it may be blind in that eye. She approached and it didn’t fly away, which made her suspect that it was unable to fly. There was a gaggle of geese about 300 yards away, and for some reason this goose wasn’t with its buddies – instead it was walking around, confusedly, all alone.

She did what anyone should do in this situation – she called the local humane society. They advised that given her description of the situation, the best thing she could do was capture the goose and transport it to their headquarters.

So we set out to capture a wild goose. After a little searching, I learned that most people recommended sneaking up on the goose and throwing a sheet over it. So we gathered some bread, an animal carrier, a white sheet, and a box that we thought might be useful in capturing the goose. I also put on work gloves and a jacket, to protect myself from any goose bites or scratches. We returned to the scene of the goose and found it still there at the side of the road, in the same place, nearly 1/2 hour after she had initially seen it.

We didn’t even need the sheet. She fed bread to the goose while I snuck up behind it. I gently secured the animal by quickly placing my gloved hands over its body, holding its wings down in the process. The goose didn’t put up a fight. We loaded it into the carrier and we were off to the humane society.

Not only did this particular goose not put up a fight, but it didn’t make a single noise all the way there. I took as a sign that the animal was pretty sick. Normally, a wild animal will make a lot of noise when captured.

We dropped the animal off, and the people at the humane society were happy that we brought it in. This was clearly a goose in need of attention. They told us that they would assess it, treat it, then transfer it to an animal recovery center if necessary. They said if the goose can recover within the next week, they may be able to reunite the bird with its friends so it can still make the trip down south for the winter. But if not, they would end up housing it until next spring.

Here are a couple of pointers that I learned along the way.

  • First, if the goose can fly, it probably doesn’t need to be captured. Leave it alone.
  • Second, if it does need to be captured, using a sheet or net is the best method. We didn’t need the sheet in our case, but then again, we had a pretty sick goose. Still, I was ready to use the sheet if necessary. This prevents injury to both you and the goose. Geese do bite, and while it won’t take a finger off or anything, I doubt it feels good.
  • Third, always call the humane society before taking any action. Many people mistakenly believe that an animal is in distress when it really isn’t. Thinking they’re doing the right thing, they capture the animal and take it in, which often does more harm than good.

    I’m told that baby bunnies are often the target of a misguided attempt to help. A bunny’s mother will leave the babies alone in the nest all day long, returning only at night to feed them. She does this so she doesn’t attract predators to the nest in broad daylight. But people come upon these bunny nests and mistakenly think that the babies have been abandoned by their mother. Separating the mother from her babies at this stage virtually guarantees their death. So remember – it’s always better to call the humane society and ask before you do anything.