Mystery of goose killed and pinned to a tree in woods above Garshake
A barnacle goose impaled to a tree in the Square Wood in the Long Crags.
EXCLUSIVE by Bill Heaney
A Dumbarton couple out for a walk in the woods near the Long Crags were horrified when they sat down for a picnic and were confronted by this dead goose, which appears to have been killed and then pinned to a tree by its neck.
The husband, who does not wish to be named lest he become a target for reprisals if this was done by hooligans, said he and his wife “got the fright of their life”.
He said: “We were out for a walk in the woods near Maryland Farm above Garshake and decided to sit down at the edge of what’s known as the Square Wood.
“There were a lot of feathers around and we simply thought that this was a natural occurrence, that it was something that happens when animals and birds prey on each other.
“But when we looked up and saw the goose pinned up to the branch of a tree, we were horrified.
“It looks to me like this may have been done by vandals or hooligans getting up to no good there.”
John Robins pictured left, of Animal Concern Advice Line agreed – “When I saw the photograph, I initially hoped the goose might have been dragged up the tree by a wildcat keen to keep its dinner away from foxes but this is obviously the act of a human.
“You need a Licence from SNH to shoot Barnacle Geese and anyone with a legitimate Licence would NOT leave a bird pinned to a tree in that manner.”
Barnacle geese are a familiar sight in local skies as they north towards Loch Lomond and west to Islay where they graze on the machair along the island shores.
They have been the target for shooters who are engaged in killing them as part of a cull on Islay.
John Robins, who lives in Cardross, said: “It could have been put there by a poacher who was disturbed before he could gut the bird. It could also have been put there by someone with a gun, bow or crossbow to use for target practise.
“From what I can see the carcass is too clean for it to have been used for target practise. It might have been left to “hang” before someone came back to retrieve it for the pot but if that was the case the bird would have been gutted first.
“Another possibility is that the carcass was poisoned and left as bait for foxes or raptors (thus also posing a lethal risk to people and pet dogs).
“Poaching still goes on in this area. A couple of years ago a young woman in combat/camouflage gear was seen using a longbow to shoot ducks at Balmaha.
“One bird was left in a reed bed alive with an arrow through it for several days until an SSPCA Inspector waded out to get it and put it down.
“There have also been instances in the Dumbarton area of gralloch and lower limbs being found where poached deer have been butchered.”
He added: “This is a weird one. Do you know if the couple who found it made a report to the SSPCA or the police?
“It really merits further investigation to at least determine how it died or if it was laced with poison.”
In an official statement, John Robins added: “This is a bit of a mystery as we do not know how the bird was killed or why it was pinned to a tree in this manner.
“Barnacle geese are protected and you need a special Government Licence to kill them so the chances are this bird was killed illegally.
“I can understand a poacher taking a goose for the pot but killing it then leaving it to rot on a tree is the act of a sick mind.
“Anyone with information which might throw light on the fate of the Square Wood goose should contact the police, SSPCA or ourselves ASAP.”
George Anderson, of the Woodland Trust, who have been doing extensive work restoring the land and planting trees in the Garshake and Overtoun area above Dumbarton, said: ““This is not something we have come across before. We don’t know if someone has found a dead goose and stuck it on the tree or whether something more sinister has happened.”