We drive by a beautiful lake on our way to our animal sanctuary, twice a day. There is a flock of Canadian geese in and around the water and one day we noticed that one of them was on the shore laying on her belly. She was not moving much at all, while the others were feeding and swimming. We continued observing her and she seemed to stay apart from the rest of the flock. When we gave her some bread, she would hop a little to feed and we quickly noticed that her two legs were bond together by a nylon fishing line, left behind by some careless fishermen. Her legs were bond so tightly she could not walk at all.
At this point we thought to catch her in order to get her some help. Our dilemma was that she was too afraid to let us come close enough to catch her. Every time she would open her wings and fly just enough to get to the water out of reach. So we had to patiently gain her trust by stopping to feed her some bread and going a little closer to her every day. Patrick did this for nearly two weeks. He noticed that she was getting weaker and she looked like she was crying for help in her way. So one day as he was so close to her, he quickly reached and grabbed around her wings and gently dropped her in a large cardboard box he had set up in the trunk of the car. She did not move as she no longer had the strength to fight.
We immediately drove to a vet we knew who has an office close by. Patrick had called to make sure she could see us. We walked into the office and Patrick opened the cardboard box to gently lift Lucie out. He held her in his arms. This beautiful, frightened and weak bird, softly he lowered her onto the examination table. She did not put up a fight, she had none left in her.
When Margo, our vet saw her in this state, she felt so upset that through the carelessness of fishermen, so much suffering was thus inflicted on an innocent bird. Upon examination, Lucie was found to be in a sorry state, so thin and weak and the nylon string was wound up so tightly around her legs that it made a deep indent in her skin which blocked the blood circulation going to her feet. One side was worse than the other and her foot had started to die. A hole had formed into the palm and she could not even stand on that leg. We did not know if she would ever recover the use of that leg or not. Margo carefully removed the string, unwinding it. Lucie did not struggle; she seemed to understand we were trying to help her. After all the string was removed, Margo took some pictures to document what had happened. She also treated her with ozone and light therapy. Finally we carried Lucie back into our car and drove to our sanctuary in the hope that she would recover.
We set her up in a fenced enclosure with a net on top for safety. Inside we filled a kiddy pool with water and gave her some mash and bread to eat as well as fresh greens. Our 8 ducks would visit her outside the enclosure and it seems to reassure her to see them, as they are cousins being water fowl themselves. Little by little she got used to our presence as well as the ducks and she seemed to appreciate it. Day by day she ate well and bathed in the little pool and put on some weight and gained a little more strength. At first she would hop on one leg but then and then she would try to put some weight on her lame leg and hop on it a little. We smiled and felt hopeful. She then tried to use the lame leg more and more and skip along on it for short durations. It looked more and more promising. Finally, she recovered her strength and could finally stand strait on it and could actually walk on it a little better each day.
It took about a month for the leg to heal completely. She now looks well and has put on a lot of weight. She looks strong.
We decided it was time to release her back in the wild around the lake with all of her sisters. This time Patrick had to use a large carrier to put her in. He placed it in her enclosure and opened it so that she could see it and get used to it, so that when he tried to catch her and put her in she would be less frightened. She went in without too much struggle. Patrick was with a friend and they put the carrier in back of a pick up truck and slowly drove toward the lake with Lucie. First they stopped at the cemetery which is the place they all hang out to eat grass and rest. Patrick placed the carrier down on the grass and opened the door but Lucie was not in a hurry to get out.
So finally she had to be persuaded with a little push to leave the small safe enclosure and get out into the open space. After looking around at her environment, she flew a small distance away from the flock to feel safe and just observe. Patrick went to check on her and gave her some bread to eat while his friend went to feed the others in order to keep them away from Lucie while she caught her bearings. After they ate, some of the geese started to fly over to the lake. Seeing them fly, Lucie suddenly spread her beautiful wings and alighted to join her friends in the lake. It was such a happy sight!
We now see Lucie almost daily as we stop by the lake to feed the geese. She still has that recognizable mark, a hole in her palm. She is completely well and reintegrated into the flock.
It fills us with great happiness that we were able to rehabilitate her and give her the life she was meant to have.