It's the time of year when lakes are frozen and birds that migrate have flown south for warmer weather. For a good part of October and early November, it's not unusual to see hundreds, if not thousands of Canadian geese resting and feeding on Crescent Lake in preparation for the long journey. This year, they are all gone, with the exception of two. And it appears they may be in for the long haul.
While it looks like one of the pair may be suffering from some sort of injury, the other appears to be quite healthy. With that said, it is refusing to leave its mate's side. Lisa Tretiak, President of the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Winnipeg says this isn't unusual.
"There are times two geese stay. One is usually a mate that refuses to leave its injured mate behind"
The general thought is that staying too long might spell the demise of the couple but Tretiak says that's not always the case. She adds a rescue may not have the end result most of us would hope for.
"Geese can survive our harsh winters as long as they have access to food and water. Shelter is not necessary. If the geese have lingering effects of old injuries, once captured, they may need to be euthanized. There is no sanctuary for all the nonreleasable geese. Secondly, this year is risky to overwinter geese as HPAI (Avian influenza) has been very rampant during fall migration with waterfowl. We have to assess each waterfowl patient when they come into rehab"
Tretiak says the center gets many calls about these types of situations at this time of year and they do what they can do. However, the capture of the love birds isn't always easy.
"Rescues can’t be done until the water is completely frozen and safe to run across. With temperatures staying mild, these rescues have to wait. With the geese being in Portage and the center based in Winnipeg, if we were to try a rescue, we want it to be successful. Sometimes it's easier if conservation in the area makes the attempts as geese could be in a safe rescue location at one time and an hour later when we get there, the situation could be dangerous."
For the time being, the geese are quite timid and are avoiding people when they come near. Some food is still available with the melting of the snow this week but water sources are becoming scarce. The temperatures are expected to drop later this week and only time will tell what happens to the geese playing out Romeo and Juliet as the last two of the year at Island Park.