Lagoon geese invited to new home at Malta farm

By Jayna Ronayne

Soon-to-be evicted geese from the East Lagoon might have a place to go, if they fit the bill.

Linda Rathnow, who raises geese at a Malta farm, called The Northern Star to offer the geese a new home under the condition that they are not too old to reproduce.

“We already have 23 geese and we hatch eggs,” Rathnow said. “They’ve got acreage to graze on and if they can lay eggs, I’d be more than willing to take them in.”

Rathnow said geese that are older than a year old are not much use for food, referring to a plan to kill the geese proposed by James Grosklags, assistant chairman of the biology department.

“The geese build up their muscles from so much walking around,” she said. “I don’t think you could find anyone tough enough to eat it—you’d have to be a really hungry coyote.”

Rathnow has driven by the geese and observed a few different varieties including Emden, which are white with blue eyes; a couple of pairs of Toulouse and possibly a Canadian or Canadian cross goose, characterized by their brown and beige coloring and a stripe down their backs.

“I would guess they were Canadian, and anyone with a poultry license knows Illinois state law says they are illegal to keep,” she said.

Should some of the geese actually be Canadian as Rathnow suspects, the University Campus Environmental Committee might not have the authority to move them, she said.

“They probably came in of their own will, but theoretically, unless they are injured or incapable of flight, which can happen with regular feeding, they are not allowed to be kept or bothered,” she said.

Rathnow also said if the committee doesn’t know the birds’ ages or if the birds are older, they might have trouble finding a home for the wayward geese.

“There’s a lot of squabbling when you bring in new geese, like a pecking order,” she said. “Unless someone wants the geese for beauty, finding a home may be very difficult.”