September 24, 2014

Elyria
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Goose on the loose: Group tries to corral escaped geese

GRAFTON — As Tom Shrontz put it, man is the only animal whose life is dictated by the clock.

For the better part of 90 minutes Monday afternoon, a group of 15 domesticated geese belonging to June Arnesen, owner of Ziggy’s Friends and Paws Inn the Woods dog boarding kennel, had no eye on the clock as they played a waiting game with the Grafton woman and several other people who tried to cajole the creatures out of the Black River and back to their home at Arnesen’s Indian Hollow Road farm.

“You’re not going to get them to move until they’re ready to move,” Shrontz said.

The Highland Heights man drove to Arnesen’s farm Monday afternoon with several of his dogs, including two border collies and a Shetland sheepdog named Simon.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” Shrontz said of his work, which employs his trained herding dogs to remove wild geese where they’re not wanted — chiefly golf courses and soccer fields.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done domesticated geese,” Shrontz said.

After meeting at the boarding kennel, the group drove to the nearby Indian Hollow Metro Parks Reservation, where the geese have taken up temporary residence on a stretch of the river.

“They’ve been here 15 years and never done this before,” Arnesen said of the geese, who flew the coop (although they aren’t really kept in one) after raccoons reportedly attacked and killed several ducks at the farm one night a week ago.

Panicked at the sight, the geese ran and flew across the road behind a neighbor’s home into the heavily wooded Metro Parks site, where they have been since then.

Arnesen and others had gone and spread corn along the riverbank each day to keep the geese fed.

“I know they’re alright for now, but I’m worried that as the weather warms up, the snow melts, and the river current gets higher and faster, they could be swept away and I’ll never see them again,” Arnesen said.

The geese instinctively know they have to remain in open water to avoid predators, Arnesen said.

Arnesen was never very worried about the geese flying away, for unlike wild Canada geese, her domesticated geese can only fly a few feet above the ground and for short distances before having to land.

The 90-minute exercise saw Arnesen and others unroll bright orange plastic fencing, which they hoped to “channel” the geese through along the riverbank once they flushed them from the water.

In the time-honored tradition of best-laid plans, it didn’t work.

But the group, which included Shrontz and Simon on the other shore, Arnesen and Co. on the near shore, and a hip-wader-wearing Don Plas in the water, tried to gradually coax the geese onshore.

The group’s patience finally paid off when all 15 geese floated to the shore and stepped out of the water, waddling together.

Their success was short-lived, as all but six of the geese abruptly stepped back into the river or flew a short distance before landing upstream several hundred yards away.

The half-dozen were slowly walked back to Arnesen’s farm where they were eventually put in a big garage.

Arnesen plans to repeat the process this afternoon in hopes of coaxing the remaining geese out of the water and back home.

“The key is getting them out of the water before it starts moving too fast,” Arnesen said.

Anyone who can help is asked to call (440) 522-8558.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.