SPCA works to help baby geese trapped in retention pond

The Virginia Beach SPCA works to help baby geese trapped in pond

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The Virginia Beach SPCA is trying to fix a retention pond issue at Kempes Landing Park.

Geese have no problem finding their way into the pond, but they can't seem to get out!

"This is a death trap," said Karen Roberts, a volunteer with the Virginia Beach SPCA Wildlife Program.

Roberts is describing a retention pond at the recently redeveloped park. The artificially built pond has no slope for animals to hop in and out of. Instead, it's completely enclosed by wooden and concrete walls.  

Birds can jump or fly down into the water... but if baby geese or ducks go in, they may find it impossible to get out.

The SPCA volunteers were out at the pond on Saturday, trying to get a gaggle of goslings back on dry land. 

"If we didn't get them out, all of these [baby geese] would have died," Roberts said.  "They don't understand that they can't get out of this pond once they're in it. So they think it's great, nice big pond to go swim in and get a drink."

Complicating matters is that on top of the surrounding pond wall, there is a fence designed to prevent human visitors from falling in.  But a small opening at the bottom of the fence is enough wiggle room for baby birds to squeeze through and go to the water below.

"The mother [goose] will sometimes [fly and] land in the water, not realizing the goslings can't get out," said volunteer Joshua Bates. "And the goslings will follow mom in... and once they're in there, they're trapped."

The solution the volunteers came up with on Saturday: a makeshift ramp extending from the top of the wall down to the water below. It then just became a matter of the geese learning to use it.

Some patience and persistence was needed, but all of the trapped goslings eventually made their way onto the right side of the fence.

Unfortunately if no one is there to help get the geese out, the result can be tragic.

"They will drown, they will die," said Roberts. "Last week, we had one that did die, and he actually cut himself up pretty bad diving under the rocks, trying to probably figure out what he was trying to do and how to get out."

The volunteers are hoping the City of Virginia Beach will build a permanent ramp to assist any trapped birds. Otherwise, they believe what happened Saturday will happen again and again.

A similar issue grabbed some national headlines last week at the U.S. Capitol, when a duck ramp was installed to assist ducklings getting in and out of the Reflecting Pool at the National Mall.  A North Carolina Congressman tweeted his dismay at "government waste," but many online criticized the Representative for making that "the hill you choose to die on."

The ducklings didn't seem to mind the ruffled feathers, though.

Back closer to home and with no permanent solution currently in place, the Virginia Beach SPCA volunteers will take their success any way they can get it.

Saturday's makeshift ramp, worked out swimmingly, said Roberts. "Everybody got back with their parents. They're all happy. We're all happy."

PHOTOS: Ramp helps goslings escape from enclosed pond

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