Wildlife experts don’t know how a goose that was found in Lake Ontario came to be covered in oil.
The goose was found covered in what experts guessed was crude oil on March 21 by Hamilton Port Authority officials, who called the Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge to rescue the bird. The refuge took the goose to Hamilton Animal Services, where volunteers spent three hours cleaning the oil from its feathers.
The source of the oil still remains a mystery. Chantal Theijn, a wildlife custodian the refuge, said that it was possible that there was only a very small patch out on the water, and this goose was the only animal unlucky enough to swim through it.
“Is there a random patch of crude oil floating around on Lake Ontario, was kind of my thought,” Theijn told the Weather Network. “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.”
The goose was lucky to have been found when it was, as the consequences if a bird remains covered for too long can be dire. “They will try to preen themselves and as a result they will ingest the crude oil, which will kill them,” Theijn explained.
At the refuge, the goose was given oral doses of activated charcoal, which binds with any toxins that may have been ingested, rendering them harmless.
The goose, who had been unable to stand when first found, recovered within a couple of weeks and was released back into the wild earlier this month. A video on Facebook showed it leaping out of a kennel and — after an understandable moment’s hesitation — hopping back into the Lake, where it will hopefully return to its mate and its former life.