Goose accident
April 13, 2010 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Someone driving in front of us mortally wounded a Canada goose. Was there anything we could have done?

My wife and I were driving down a busy road that runs along a river. A car in front of us hit a goose, and it was obviously mortally injured, but in for a slow, painful death (I don't want to write gory details). She hit the brakes and we wondered for a split second what we should do, but it was an awful sight and fast traffic was coming behind us, so we went around it and drove away.

We are wondering if there's anything we could have or should have done. We didn't have any means of putting the goose out of its misery (nor possibly the emotional fortitude), and we're not even sure that's allowed.
posted by Maximian to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
We didn't have any means of putting the goose out of its misery (nor possibly the emotional fortitude), and we're not even sure that's allowed.

You probably did have the means (PDF), but it's a very difficult thing to do and you didn't have much of a chance to begin with. Nobody can tell you what you should have done, because it doesn't much matter either way. A "slow" death for a goose that gets hit by a car is only slow in relative terms. Don't worry too much about it.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:08 PM on April 13, 2010


In the Emergency Medical Service there is a single first priority. Do not put your self in jeopardy in order to help someone else. Simply stated, you can't be of use to an injured individual if you are injured on the way to help. In your situation, you had two serious possibilities to be injured. You would be in danger from the goose if it was conscious as they are strong birds able to inflict injury and, if it was in pain it would strike out at anyone trying to touch it. Next, you risk injury from someone rubber-necking into you. Having been on scene more times than I would like when someone almost hit one of us because they were looking too hard, I would never stop to help a mortally injured animal in the road.
posted by Old Geezer at 7:09 PM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whenever I've come across large animals hit like that I've always just called animal control and let them know the area where it is and then let them take over. Of course, this has been w/ deer and such. But I imagine the same would apply to geese. Maybe keep that in mind next time but otherwise I think you did all you could. Stopping would've just raised the risk for accidents and putting putting yourself and others in harms way.
posted by kanata at 7:10 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Canadian geese aren't friendly. You might have saved yourself some pain.
posted by Silvertree at 7:18 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think Old Geezer is right - I've run across 4 lanes of highway traffic to rescue an injured hawk, but I realize in hindsight that it was ridiculous on many levels - I could have ended up causing an accident or worse.

Not that I wouldn't do it again, but I'd be a lot more cautious - I think you and your wife made the correct decision in this case.
posted by HopperFan at 7:38 PM on April 13, 2010


FWIW in my local city, recently a truck driver swerved to avoid an animal on the road. He created a massive accident that blocked traffic for maybe 8-10 hours but, thankfully, did not cause any human harm. His truck did catch fire and burned - I think he was hauling fuel - and he was charged for unsafe driving.

moral: when operating a motor vehicle, your first responsibility is to continue to operate it in a safe manner, goose or no goose. If that means you can't stop, then don't stop. It's not worth having an injured goose + several damaged cars with injured people in them either.

On preview what Old Geezer said.

And yes Canadian geese are not what I'd call friendly.

posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:44 PM on April 13, 2010


It's true that you shouldn't endanger your life because you're worried about an animal on the road - and others are right that you should not have stopped in a place with fast traffic and put yourself in harm's way.

However, if you'd like to know the best thing to do, I can tell you: call your local Animal Control, at least in the United States (though you don't say where exactly you are, it seems like that's a good guess in this case). You say you'd rather not describe what happened, and you say it was a slow and painful death; but you should know that Animal Control happen to be the experts on this sort of thing. It may not seem to make sense, but meeting creatures that might be about to die and trying to make it as painless as possible is a huge part of their jobs. I know it might have seemed as though the goose was clearly a goner; however, they're the experts, and even after the animal is dead they know how to get the goose off the road in such a way that nobody else gets hurt.
posted by koeselitz at 7:59 PM on April 13, 2010


Not to be flip, but everyone who spends any time near the buggers hates them with a passion. They are loud, aggressive, and are constantly leaving their droppings everywhere. And they nearly took down a plane in NYC, remember?

You were smart -- and safe -- not to stop.
posted by teedee2000 at 8:00 PM on April 13, 2010


If it had been safe and you didn't care about getting hurt by a wild animal, you could have taken it to an emergency veterinary clinic where they would have put it down.

Alot of ifs there though.
posted by TheBones at 8:18 PM on April 13, 2010


(And a brief note: bears can tear you limb from limb if they want to. A large shark, if it so chose, could bite you in half. A charging moose can mean instant death.

It's still sad to see any of them die. Please, please call Animal Control when you see an animal like that suffering. After all, Canada Geese probably enjoy human beings about as much as human beings enjoy them; but a world without either is a sadder place.
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


)
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 PM on April 13, 2010


Thanks for the responses. We didn't actually stop, just slowed way down, but I agree this was dangerous. We also swerved out of the way, which is also dangerous, but it's hard to imagine just rolling over it in our Corolla. Thankfully there was sort of a break in traffic and no other cars were very close to us.

A "slow" death for a goose that gets hit by a car is only slow in relative terms. Don't worry too much about it.

I hope this is the case. It seems likely that someone else behind us finished the job (with their car, ugh). These geese are considered pests in a lot of places, true, but the sight of the animal horribly wounded and screaming in pain (and probably having hours left to live, unless hit again) was hard to bear.

If Animal Control does respond to cases like that, that's good to know. If we have the misfortune to see something like that again, we'll try them.
posted by Maximian at 8:40 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It all depends on the specifics of the situation, but in similar situations where an animal was writhing on the road, dying, obviously in great pain, I have aimed the tire directly at its head and killed the animal myself. Yes, a more humane death would involve a pain-free injection in a calm environment. But given the choice between leaving it to die slowly in pain, or much more quickly and less painfully via my car, I have always made the choice to do what I saw as more humane, given the limitations of that moment.

Geese can be large, and in a low-slung car I wouldn't drive over it unless I was sure I could hit the head and avoid the body. In a truck, or with a clear shot at its head, euthanasia-by-car could be a good option.

And to emphasize what others have said above -- don't put yourself or other people at risk by running across traffic, backing up into oncoming cars, or swerving all over the road. The goose dying is sad; causing a 20-car pile-up for a dying goose would be much sadder.
posted by Forktine at 8:44 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is going to sound really horrible and revolting, and I want to state up front that I am such an animal lover that I'm a vegetarian for ethical reasons.

Okay? We're clear, right? I'm a soft-hearted animal lover. Pinkie swear.

So here's my advice. The kindest thing would have been not to swerve. I know it's a reflex, and I certainly don't blame you for trying to avoid it. But let's face it, the second hit probably would have put the poor thing instantly out of its misery.

Would it comfort you to know that one of the cars behind you probably killed it?

I'm really sorry. Like I said: horrible and revolting. But no less true for that, I think.
posted by ErikaB at 8:44 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not to be flip, but everyone who spends any time near the buggers hates them with a passion. They are loud, aggressive, and are constantly leaving their droppings everywhere. And they nearly took down a plane in NYC, remember?

This is ludicrous. As a justification for allowing an animal to suffer, it is pathetic. Do you think the Canada geese conspired to get sucked into a jet engine on purpose?

I agree that it is important not to put other people in danger, and that Maximian had little or no recourse in this situation. But to blithely dismiss anyone's concerns about another creature's pain with "oh, everyone hates them, so don't worry about it" is not only unsubstantiated BS, it doesn't even answer the question.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:39 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


teedee2000 wrote: "Not to be flip, but everyone who spends any time near the buggers hates them with a passion. They are loud, aggressive"

Eh, I used to have a crap ton of them living outside my apartment. I enjoyed them, as they were very acclimated to humans, so were only aggressive toward each other. The droppings would have been a problem if the area behind my apartment wasn't already dog poop central.

+1 to the idea about finishing it off with your car if possible. It's really crappy, but death is crappy to begin with, and a quick death is certainly better than a slow, agonizing one.
posted by wierdo at 11:30 PM on April 13, 2010


I was driving on a busy highway this weekend, when all of a sudden, some conscientious soul about three cars in front of me stopped suddenly to let a flock of Canada geese get off the road. I screeched on my brakes, came within about three feet of rear-ending the car in front of me (who did the same with respect to the car in front of him), and let loose with a slew of invective at the goose-loving idiot who decided to come to a full stop on a road graded for 60 mph, especially when it's the norm for folks to exceed that limit on that stretch. Stopping for geese (or almost anything else on the highway) is ill-advised, at best. On the highway, it's all too easy for well-meaning folks to do something that invites disaster.
posted by deejay jaydee at 8:41 AM on April 14, 2010


I don't know if he was particularly goose-loving, deejay jaydee, maybe he just loved his car/windshield more - one goose, ok, but I wouldn't want to hit an entire flock at 60+ mph.

"especially when it's the norm for folks to exceed that limit on that stretch"

er, that's their problem, not the driver in front.
posted by HopperFan at 10:20 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


HopperFan wrote: "er, that's their problem, not the driver in front."

That sort of idiotic attitude of "not my responsibility" is what makes driving such a dangerous activity. It is always your responsibility to avoid creating a hazard to other drivers.
posted by wierdo at 4:50 PM on April 14, 2010


"always your responsibility to avoid creating a hazard to other drivers."

You're right, it is - by not going over the posted speed limit, even if "it's the norm" and making sure you have enough room to stop if anything happens to the car in front of you - whether it's avoiding a flock of geese, or a tire blowout, etc...

I guess that's idiotic if you're a tailgater and speeder.
posted by HopperFan at 7:52 PM on April 14, 2010


I'm not going to continue this here any further than this: The safest thing to do is to drive at the speed of traffic, whatever that may be. If you drive slower than that prevailing speed, you are creating a hazard.

The posted speed limit is not some magical number, going over which causes you to automatically die in a fire.

And yes, tailgating is quite dangerous also. Nearly as much so as driving at a significantly different speed than the rest of the cars on the road.

Sorry, asker, my buttons have been duly pushed. :(
posted by wierdo at 8:03 PM on April 14, 2010


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