SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Most who knew her had their own name for the white goose that hung around Manset Corner for the last couple of years.
According to one resident, she blew in on a storm in 2018. “No one really knew where she came from because she was kind of wild,” said Daisy Harper, who visited and fed the goose regularly and has created a memorial where it was often found. “Obviously people really cared for her. They had their own name for her. It’s all so sad that she’s gone.”
Where the goose went after leaving town at the end of March created a social media storm of its own, with many people pointing a finger at the owner of the land she frequented. Accusations whirled around a story of the goose being moved by the landowner to an area of Mount Desert Island considered to be where dogs are able to roam without a leash, where one person claimed she met her demise.
When asked by the Islander if she had any involvement in the goose’s departure, the landowner said she had not and that her grandchildren were fans of the goose, even giving it a name.
While a sad tale, it is one that has been difficult to substantiate. According to Liam Hughes, the Maine Director of Animal Welfare, moving a goose, no matter how tame it may appear, is not easy to do.
“I know enough to stay away from them,” said Hughes. “They are usually bitey and grumpy, especially if they are protecting their area.”
In a Facebook post on the Bar Harbor Barter and Swap page on March 17, Tate Bushell posted a photo and wrote, “This goose is at Little Long Pond preserve right now. Seems kind of tame – someone said that it looks a lot like the Southwest Harbor goose. Hey Southwest Harbor – are you missing your goose?”
Many people responded to the post in which Bushell suggested dog owners keep their pets on a leash to avoid an attack. Cyd Collins was sure the goose was the one from Southwest Harbor.
“She is definitely the SWH goose,” she wrote in response. “She has been at Western Way condos going on 7 years now. My husband is the property mgr. at Western Way. She has been well cared for and well fed by many townspeople, Ken and condo owners. Her name is Gussie – please keep your dogs on a leash to protect her. We all hope she returns to our harbor – her ‘spot’.”
Harper remembers last feeding the goose about a week after the post by Bushell went up. According to Hughes, if a goose is getting what it needs, it will stay in that area. Outside of Harper and those at the condos, one of the goose’s greatest providers was David Norwood, a lifelong resident of Southwest Harbor. Norwood, who visited the goose daily and gave her the name, Baby Girl, died last November.
“Everyone tried to take care of her after David died,” said Harper. “She would just cling to David Norwood. She would stand right next to him, even when he was in his Jeep… David could nearly hand-feed her.”
Harper said the goose really tried to have babies, even connecting with a male Canada goose who eventually was hit by a vehicle. Locals and visitors alike often stopped to take photos or watch the goose. She often stopped traffic as she meandered from one side of the road to the other. A few people chimed in on the posts about her, saying she often flew back and forth from Dysart’s Marina to Manset Corner. What is obvious is she made an impression.
“She was really smart, that’s why the ducks followed her,” said Harper, who wrote a story about the goose. “She was so friendly, if you just stood 4 feet away from her, she would stand there and talk to you. She was quite the little character.
“I always wanted to write a fairytale about her. Then I wrote the essay about her.”
Harper’s story about the goose can be found in the Sunshine Times, an independent publication based in Ellsworth.
On June 5, more than two months after the goose was last seen in Southwest Harbor, a report was made to the police department alleging that someone relocated the goose to a park and it was attacked and killed by a dog at that park. When an officer investigated the call, he was unable to find an owner of the goose or clear information about what happened to it.