Icy rescue: Firefighters pluck ‘gentlemanly’ goose from frozen pond

Assistant Fire Chief Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Ritter, left, and Capt. David Foley, holding the goose, were among rescue workers from the Stephens City Volunteer Fire & Rescue company who worked to free the goose from a frozen pond last week. Courtesy photo

Members of the Stephens City Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company ice rescue team were called out during the recent cold snap to rescue a Canada goose that was trapped in a frozen pond.

Fire Chief John Jones said Monday that his department received a call from Frederick County dispatch asking the firefighters to do an ice rescue.  A concerned citizen had called in to report that a bird had been stuck for a couple of days in a frozen pond on private property.  Jones declined to reveal the pond’s location.

After taking all safety precautions, the team launched a rescue boat with Capt. David Foley and Lt. John Jones II going onto the ice. Watching from the shore at the ready to offer their own rescue were Chief Jones, Assistant Chief Steve Ritter, Deputy Chief Tim Vaught and firefighter Timothy Butler. The chief stressed that everyone involved are certified ice technicians and that people should call 911 and not make their way onto ice to make any rescue.

Once near the goose, John Jones II chipped away at the ice surrounding it. Once freed, Foley reached down and lifted the goose, which had ice still attached to it, into the boat.

“He was not aggressive,” the Chief Jones said. “I think he knew people were trying to help him. He was a gentlemanly goose.”

Both the fire chief and the staff at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce, where the goose was taken, said geese can get stuck in ice when they fall asleep as they are floating on the water.

When they wake up they find themselves stuck in the ice, said Dr. Jennifer Riley, director of veterinary services at the wildlife center.

“When he came in he still still had ice around him,” Riley said.

The goose, its gender unknown,  underwent an examination and it was determined that it had a mild case of nerve damage.

“We hope it is temporary,” Riley said.

The goose is receiving physical therapy at the center. Three times a day it is supported as it struggles to walk down the hall of the veterinarian clinic. The goose also is placed into a tub of water three times a day.

“It is a matter of strength,” Riley said, noting that the goose’s prognosis is guarded.

“Right now, he cannot be released,” Riley said.

Center staff say they hope that within 30 days they will have a better idea of whether the bird will recover. The center, by law, can keep wildlife up to 180 days.  After that, the goose would have to go to a licensed wildlife educator or be euthanized, Riley said.

On the Net

• View video at http://tiny.cc/9cs2py of the ice rescue team working to free the goose.

• View video at  http://tiny.cc/lkq2py of Dr. Jennifer Riley helping the injured goose walk.