AP NEWS

Business owner goes extra mile for goose

January 17, 2019

Kevin Kolar left Fort Wayne for suburban Indianapolis on Wednesday with an unlikely companion: a months-old female goose named Charlie.

Months of mild weather let Kolar prolong this voyage to Providence Wildlife Rehabilitation in Westfield.

He and others at his business, The Tube Car Wash in southwest Fort Wayne, had grown attached to Charlie, a gosling born in the spring but abandoned by her family in September because she couldn’t fly.

“With winter setting in, the family had to leave (her),” Kolar said, noting Charlie would wander around the car wash and a nearby pond.

Kolar anticipated freezing temperatures would pose problems for Charlie and contacted the Indiana Department of Natural Resources about the situation. Without a water source, the agency told him, the goose would likely die.

Although the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits people from handling wild birds, it allows for the capture of injured birds if they are taken directly to a rehabilitator, said Megan Dillon, an urban wildlife biologist with the DNR.

There is “never any obligation” for someone to rescue an animal, Dillon said.

“The DNR always encourages people to keep wildlife wild, keep your distance (and) don’t interfere,” she said, adding people can let nature take its course.

However, Dillon said, she understands why Charlie’s inability to fly would compel Kolar to help.

Kolar acknowledged the absurdity of the situation.

“Most people can’t believe what I’m doing,” he said before bringing Charlie inside Providence Wildlife. “But we kind of fell in love with (her).”

Employees are happy Charlie is getting proper care, Kolar said, but one person : Charlie’s champion : teared up over her departure. There’s no doubt car wash personnel will miss her, he said.

“That’s the reason we waited so long to take (her),” Kolar said, adding they hoped for a mild winter to avoid the issue.

Charlie arrived at the rehabilitation center nestled in a green pet crate padded with straw and stocked with food and water.

Charlie appears to be healthy other than having poor feather quality in her wings and tail, a condition typically seen in birds confined in a small area for weeks or months, said Kristen Heitman, the facility’s executive director. She noted the problem could be attributed to nutrition or genetics.

The goose is expected to be examined by a veterinarian today, Heitman said.

“We’re going to try to determine why she’s in poor feather condition and why she might be non-flighted,” Heitman said.

Before securing Charlie in an enclosure, Heitman on Wednesday let the goose roam the building to help her transition to a contained setting.

“She’s just getting to know everyone right now,” Heitman said, adding Charlie was drawn to a couple of geese.

Charlie’s quiet, gentle temperament could lead her to a role reserved for birds who are medically non-releasable.

“We’re thinking that she might be a good candidate to become an education ambassador for her species,” Heitman said.

Heitman commended Kolar for making the effort most people wouldn’t.

“I’m very pleased that this business owner felt compassionate enough to buy a net, round up some volunteers, capture her and actually drive her all the way down here,” Heitman said.

Kolar stopped by The Tube upon returning to Fort Wayne.

“Our team is so thrilled that Charlie has a new home,” he said via text message, adding the person who named her was ecstatic.

asloboda@jg.net

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