Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 28, 2000

Snow goose reintroduced into the wild

By Gail Lipe

After almost three months of recovery, the injured snow goose that was captured in Glencoe in May was released back into the wild on Aug. 17.

The snow goose was found behind the creamery in Glencoe in May with primary flight feathers missing. He was dehydrated and starving.

With a flight distance of only five feet, the goose was unable to provide for itself. It was captured in the alfalfa field by some dedicated wildlife rescue people and taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center by the University of Minnesota.

Plans were set to release the bird in July after its feathers had grown back, but Marie Thurn, a wildlife field rescue person, said the bird went through a stress molt and lost all its primary and secondary feathers again. She said they had to wait until the feathers grew back a second time.

Thurn took the bird to Litchfield to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to let the bird go in a wetland area it created.

Robert Jansen, an authority on birds and bird migration, advised the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to reintroduce the snow goose into the wild in Litchfield because of the migratory pattern of the birds.

Barry Christenson, Rob Bruesewitz and Craig Lee from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife assisted in letting the goose go. Lloyd and Jeanette Tenhoff of Dassel also participated.

The property the bird was set free on was once a sod farm. Bruesewitz said sod was cut from it two years ago. Now it is approximately 200 acres of wildlife habitation, with a majority of it wetlands.

In 1907 Stone Lake was drained for agriculture purposes. Over the years its 206-acre basin has been host to corn fields, the sod farm and cattails, but not water.

In 1997 the U. S. Fish and Wildlife purchased a 123-acre lakeside site and Ducks Unlimited installed a water control structure along a drainage ditch to hold back the water and fill the basin.

"One-hundred percent of the money collected on duck stamps goes to buy places like this," said Bruesewitz.

Restoring the wetland was a cooperative effort involving the U. S. Fish and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and the Department of Natural Resources.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota was started as a student organization at the University of Minnesota in 1979. It has become an independent nonprofit organization that cares for nearly 7,000 wild animals each year. It received its 50,000th patient in July of 1998.

The center has seven staff members and over 350 volunteers, including field rescue people like Thurn. Its mission is to provide medical care, rehabilitation and release for all injured and orphaned wildlife while offering professional training and community education.

It receives over 12,000 calls each year from the public asking questions on how to deal with wildlife and "pest" animals in a safe and respectful manner. It also treats 60 percent of the wildlife receiving veterinary care in Minnesota.

Anyone who finds an injured or orphaned wild animal should call 612-624-7730.

Thurn recommends putting the animal in a cardboard box or pet carrier. She said if someone is uncomfortable picking up the injured animal, they should stay with the animal until a field rescue person gets there.

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