‘A flighted bird is an uncatchable bird,’ goose with arrow pierced through head shocks students

The SPCA knows all about the goose, but they can’t catch it.


Francesca Bond/The Record

The goose with an arrow through its head frequents SUNY Buffalo State campus.

Francesca Bond and Alex Silvia

University Police first encountered the alarming goose with an arrow or dart, pierced through its head that’s been shaking students, behind Buckham Hall on Sept. 4.

Police then contacted the SPCA Serving Erie County.

The SPCA attempted to catch it.

The thing is, it’s not exactly easy to catch a flying bird.

“It’s really hard to catch something that can still fly,” says Matt Zymanek, operations manager at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, a not-for-profit wildlife educational outreach program and wildlife sanctuary in East Aurora. “There’s no clear-cut way about it, it’s taking advantage of a situation when it arises.”

Concerned students have called the SPCA as often as twice a day about the goose since returning to school, but the SPCA knows all about the injured goose.

They can’t catch it.

SPCA rescue teams have attempted to catch the goose “two or three times” since September, according to Barbara Haney, director of wildlife at SPCA Serving Erie County.

“[The goose is] seeming like it has the energy to fly and to swim, so it must be eating. The only way we can get it is if it gets emaciated and doesn’t have the energy to move,” Haney says. “It appears that it’s still eating because it’s been weeks now that it’s been strong enough to fly away and run away and swim away.”

Dr. Michael Niman, a media studies and journalism professor at Buffalo State, says the goose has been spotted around the west side of Buffalo, Buffalo State and Forest Lawn Cemetery since spring. The SPCA confirms that calls started coming in around early September.

University Police is unsure where the goose came from or the exact timeline of its injuries, saying it could have traveled thousands of miles with the arrow.

“The arrow is not something that should be in there. It sounds like if it could be caught, it would be easy to have a veterinarian remove it and release it back on its way,” Zymanek says.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was unaware of the goose prior to The Record’s inquiry but confirms a flying bird is hard to catch. The department is currently investigating the situation. Canada goose hunting season began Sept. 1 and ended Sept. 25 in upstate New York.

It is unclear whether it is a dart, an arrow or a broken arrow.

“I do know that a flighted bird is an uncatchable bird,” says Kristen Davidson, public participation specialist for the New York State DEC. “So if this can fly away, then my staff won’t be able to catch it. Which means my staff won’t be able to give it to a wildlife rehabilitator, and that’s usually what we would do.”

(The Record will update this story with DEC’s comment on the legality of the arrow.)