Berwyn Heights resident takes the plunge to save goose

by Anath Hartmann | Special to The Gazette

A Canada goose got a lucky break while visiting Berwyn Heights.

Greenbelt resident Cam MacQueen was walking her dog in the Lake Artemesia Natural Area in Berwyn Heights the evening of Nov. 9 when she saw the goose struggling against something in the lake.

After looking more closely, she realized it was a fishing line.

Borrowing the cell phone of a couple standing nearby, MacQueen called local law enforcement offices.

"Finally it dawned on me that the Berwyn Heights Fire Department would be the best bet," MacQueen said.

While waiting for the firefighters to arrive, MacQueen said she got worried about the goose, which seemed to be growing more agitated at being caught in what appeared to be a length of fishing line.

So she took the plunge — literally.

"I decided to take off my tennis warm-up pants and head out into the water with tennis shorts on, sans shoes," said MacQueen, a vegan who has rescued animals ranging from dogs and lobsters to pigs. "I was not going to let the animal drown."

MacQueen wasn't able to untangle the animal herself but she waited in the cold, murky water nearly 20 minutes until the firefighters arrived to ensure that the goose didn't drown.

"Normally they may send somebody out for animal distress but it's not [considered] an emergency normally," Berwyn Heights Fire Department Deputy Chief Danny McCoy said.

But staff at other agencies, such as animal control offices, was busy with other calls, making the fire department the hero of the evening at Lake Artemesia.

Donning waterproof gear, two firefighters entered the lake, and within five minutes, managed to free the goose from the line. The bird was soon swimming away.

"It definitely would have died [if it had been left alone]," McCoy said.

The fishing line had a large, rusty hook attached to it, which luckily did not appear to have lacerated the goose, MacQueen said, adding that the incident has highlighted the need for the designation of a body of water in Prince George's County where fishing is not allowed.

"People like me could go [there] and enjoy the scenery without having to watch for fishing line and hooks, come across an entangled animal, or watch a fish stripped from the water with a hook ... and then suffocate," MacQueen said.