The sight of Canada geese hanging out in Columbia Park in Kennewick has become a stereotypical scene.
But to see wild geese impaled by arrows and milling around can be disturbing, and during the past week at least two birds were reported to have been struggling with an arrow injury.
Sgt. Mike Jewell of the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department said a bird wounded by an arrow is not exactly abnormal, either.
"This time of year, there's always a greater number of geese who gather in Columbia Park," said Jewell, who is stationed in the Tri-Cities. "And from time to time, some show up who've been shot by an arrow."
There is little chance the wounded fowl were pierced by the arrows from anyone taking pot shots at them in the park, he said. It's more likely the birds flew in from elsewhere, and shooting geese for sport isn't always how they're injured.
"We can speculate about all sorts of things on how the geese ended up being shot with arrows," he said. "But we've received no reports of people shooting arrows at the park."
Jewell doesn't dismiss the chance that irresponsible archers could be the culprits, but it's just as probable the birds were shot during hunting season.
"Geese are a lot tougher than humans," Jewell said. "They can survive a long time even after being injured by an arrow.
"I suggest that if anyone sees a wounded bird in the park, they shouldn't try to (capture) it because an injured bird can be very aggressive and dangerous. They should call the Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue, a dedicated organization that can help where we can't."
Marilyn Hayes, volunteer coordinator for Pendleton-based Blue Mountain Wildlife, said her group tried to rescue one of the wounded birds Saturday and Sunday at Columbia Park.
"Eight of us made three attempts to capture the poor thing Saturday, but each time, the goose flew away," Hayes said. "I don't know who is target practicing on these geese, but I have a hunch it happened elsewhere, and the hurt geese just ended up at the park."
Hayes said the bird was stressed and couldn't stand on the foot of the injured thigh. The rescue team couldn't find the wounded bird Sunday.
Hayes, a member of the Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society, said the society also works the Friends of McNary National Wildlife Refuge and other concerned citizens to help injured wildlife.
Volunteers rescue wildlife when possible, but birds are especially elusive, she said. The latest wounded bird at the park was shot with a green arrow, which is a target practice arrow and not a hunting one, she said.
"It is frustrating because usually we cannot get to (the wounded bird) until the poor creature is at death's door," she said.
Jewell and Hayes encourage the public to be watchful and report anyone they see who might be injuring geese to Blue Mountain Wildlife online at bluemountainwildlife.org or call 541-278-0215 or 541-377-8246.
Hayes said if anyone does capture an injured bird, they should contact Blue Mountain Wildlife or the Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society at v.
"We will come pick it up," she said. "When we receive calls about injured wildlife, we (ask) the individual to stay by the animal so we can find it."
Jewell said it isn't always possible to help every injured bird, but agencies such as Blue Mountain Wildlife and the regional Audubon Society try to offer wounded wildlife at a fighting chance.
"Sometimes, you just have to let nature take its course," he added.