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A goose shot with an arrow landed in the best spot imaginable: A veterinarian's yard.
But it wasn't just any home. It was the home of 82-year-old Benard Levine of Toms River -- a retired veterinarian
"This is a smart goose," said Levine.
Levine did what any other veterinarian would do. He cared for the bird, fed it, and performed life-saving surgery. The retired vet pulled six inches of arrow from the bird's chest and removed several pellets from an air rifle.
After all the care, Levine took the goose to The Raptor Trust, New Jersey's largest bird rehab facility. The bird weighed eight pounds on the day it arrived. Three weeks later and four pounds heavier, the goose was released back into the wild.
Levine was able to watch him fly away.
"It feels great to see him free and liberated, enjoying life the way a goose should," Levine said.
Levine has always been compassionate towards animals. His son Richard notes that his dad once got into a car accident to avoid running over a turtle.
Although birders generally praise Levine's efforts, some say saving geese is not an imperative because the birds have long been an overly abundant nuisance, according to Peter Bacinski, director of the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory and a New Jersey Audubon member.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists estimated the population of Canada geese in 2009 to be about 1.1 million in eastern North America from Quebec to South Carolina, an 11 percent decline from 2008 because the geese built fewer nests. Colder May temperatures in 2009 and the resulting snowmelt delayed prolonged migration to nesting grounds, the biologists concluded.
Ponds created in parks, golf courses and corporate properties have attracted geese, which pollute water and grounds with their excrement, stop traffic on roads and take over public parks, Bacinski said.
"A once regal bird has become a pimple on the rump of society,'' said Bacinski, a birder for 40 years.
But Raptor Trust founder Len Soucy, who self-financed the facility with his wife in the 1960s, rejects such negative opinions of geese.
"The diversity on this planet keeps us healthy,'' Soucy said. "To say that one goose doesn't matter, or one eagle doesn't matter, or one human being doesn't matter, I don't subscribe to that. It all matters.''