By Steve Pettibone The Recorder and Times
Updated 8 hours ago
CARDINAL – Who stuffed a large quantity of dead Canada geese into a pair of giant garbage bags? Why did they do it? And why were these dead birds left to rot in an area near a local playground?
These are but a few of the questions residents here are asking after the grizzly discovery of a mass of maggot-infested geese in the vicinity of the community pool on Dishaw Street.
Mark Murray, who lives on Dodge Street in the village, said he was alerted by a friend on Monday to the presence of two suspicious-looking bags of rotting animals sitting on the grass near the park.
"I was at home here and a fellow dropped by and told me he believed there were two bags of dead dogs out in the park area across from the large apartment complex on Dishaw Street," Murray recounted to The Recorder and Times on Wednesday.
"He was walking with his dogs and he just could see some fur through one of the bags that was ripped open."
Murray said his pal estimated the bags had been there for about three days and "stunk very badly." But there was another report to follow, as another friend stopped by and told him there were two bags of "something" at the site and estimated they had been there for as long as four days.
Compounding Murray's puzzlement at how the bags could have remained in a public place for so long without being investigated was the fact there has been some road maintenance going on recently in the area.
"There have been large work crews cleaning up the road, tearing up the road, what have you," he said. "How they could not smell this? I've got no idea."
Curious, Murray had his friends take him to the bags, where he met with a sight and stench that he said caused his cohorts to keep a wide berth between themselves and the dead animals.
"Both were reluctant to come too close because of the stink of it," he said. "I could see one bag was ripped open, and of course I had my gloves on, but it was hard with the stink there."
Fighting his way past the smell, Murray found what he describes as "two full industrial-sized bags of Canada geese."
"There had to be at least 20 a bag," he said. "You could see the maggots coming out of a number of them on the ripped- open bag."
Murray said it bothered him to make such a gruesome find in a public area, close to the recently drained community pool. In particular, he said, he was worried about the potential for the spreading of disease.
"Although the pool area is drained and the kids are back to school, some of them will still come out in that park area," he said. "I know that children play there a lot."
But perhaps most alarming to Murray was the apparent condition of the birds when he found them. There were, he says, no visible signs that the geese had been shot by hunters.
"I'm not a forensic scientist, but I couldn't see any blood, so I am wondering whether somebody went out and poisoned these things and left them there," he said. "I don't know what to make of it."
Further, Murray said, if nothing was wrong with the geese, he wonders why someone hadn't simply turned them over to a food bank, rather than wasting them.
Following up on the discovery, Murray said he has contacted a number of officials at various points, including a pair of local firefighters he knows, Edwardsburgh-Cardinal Mayor Bill Sloan, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the OPP communication centre in Smiths Falls.
But Murray said he has not heard anything further from the MNR or OPP. He says he did, however, receive a call back from Sloan, and the birds had been removed by Monday night.
"I got a report from one of the fellows that had taken me over there, and he lives right across the road from it," Murray said. "He told me right after I talked to the firefighters, it was about 15 or 20 minutes and the bags had been taken away."
Prescott OPP Const. Rob Prophet confirmed on Wednesday that the detachment is conducting an investigation into the incident.
He said a police report on the matter is not available yet, but said officers continue to investigate.
"They suspect they were from a hunter's freezer, but there's nothing here to say that they were," Prophet said, noting the detachment has forwarded the case to the MNR.In a voicemail to The Recorder and Times, Steve Aubrey, enforcement manager for the ministry's Kemptville branch, said the case has been forwarded to the the wildlife enforcement division at Environment Canada, which handles incidents involving migratory birds. An attempt to reach Environment Canada was unsuccessful.