FOLLOWUP: What we’ve learned about the Fauntleroy white geese’s new life in Vashon, and their backstory

(Photo courtesy BaaHaus, from the geese’s trip to a vet)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A week and a half after the famous Fauntleroy white geese were relocated to Vashon Island, the rescue group that is now housing them says they “are both doing great.”

We promised to follow up on our original September 9th report of their sudden removal, and in keeping that promise, have learned more about how that unfolded, and about how they had come to live in Fauntleroy in the first place.

We have communicated by e-mail with the rescue group, BaaHaus, and Seattle Parks, and have spoken by phone with the man who says he is the person who originally brought geese to the Fauntleroy shore and is sad that they are gone.

First, BaaHaus has answered questions we had originally sent a week ago; after several days, we learned that the e-mail had bounced, so we re-sent it; BaaHaus’s spokesperson had promised us in our original phone conversation that she would be happy to answer more questions that way. She asked to remain anonymous, though, saying that BaaHaus has received threats because of the goose relocation.

We asked for details of what led them to take the geese:

“BaaHaus received several phone calls and emails from a number of concerned West Seattle residents who had seen the geese harassed and noted their dwindling numbers. These park-goers said they had also contacted Seattle Animal Control and the Seattle Parks Department. We told them that we would not come and get the geese, but if they were able to capture them, or if Seattle Animal Control captured them and turned them over to Seattle Animal Shelter we would make room for them at our sanctuary. The calls and emails continued over the course of a month. …

“The Good Samaritans who picked up the geese are not affiliated with BaaHaus, though they have volunteered here in the past (as well as at other animal-related organizations in the region). We were very grateful to have their help because (1) they have experience capturing animals, (2) they know domestic geese from wild geese, and (3) we knew they would come prepared to make the transfer as swift, gentle, and safe for the geese as possible. They also know the rules around animal rescue and notified Seattle Animal Shelter of the location from which the geese were removed and the location where they were put into a safe, secure, comfortable quarantine. By the volunteers’ accounts, the capture went well and the geese were unharmed. I will verify that when they reached BaaHaus they were in good shape, not particularly stressed, and mostly curious about the geese talking to them through the fence. They were also very hungry and dug into the food we had prepared for them.”

(BaaHaus had told us in our initial conversation hours after the capture that they already have about 30 geese on their Vashon Island compound.)

The BaaHaus spokesperson continued, “We really love geese, so we understand that people are feeling the loss of contact with these two lovely individuals. We hope that people who care about the geese will take comfort in knowing that they will be well cared for and will have an excellent quality of life at BaaHaus — not just food, veterinary care, and shelter, but attention to their individual needs and also to their happiness for the rest of their lives. We have decades of experience working with domestic geese and a variety of other farm animals. We have been a 501c3 non-profit since 1997.”

It’s still not a black-and-white matter of whether removing these geese from the park was legal. The Parks Department told us last week that they were looking up the police report that was filed at the time of the removal, and had reported the incident to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter said this section of the Parks Code “might apply”:

18.12.100 – Capturing or striking animals prohibited.

Except for fishing and shellfishing in areas authorized by the Superintendent and subject to rules promulgated by the Washington State Game Commission, it is unlawful in any park in any manner to attempt to capture, tease, annoy, disturb, or strike any animal with any stick, weapon or other device or thing or throw or otherwise propel any missile or other object at or in the vicinity of any such animal.

Meantime, BaaHaus contends the geese were domestic animals that were “dumped.”

The man who says he is responsible for their presence here – dating back more than 20 years – tells a more-nuanced story.

He, like the BaaHaus rep, asked not to be identified, with this remaining a touchy topic. But he sought us out to tell the geese’s backstory, which we had never heard.

He was raising geese at his home not far from the park, he said, while observing that waterfowl in the area had been on the decline. He said he talked to waterfront residents near the ferry dock to ask if they would have a problem if he “relocated” some there. “Nobody had a problem with it,” he said, so that’s what he did.

This, he said, was 22 years ago – he originally brought one pair of geese and four goslings to the beach.

“These were grays,” he said, “this particular breed comes in gray or white.”

Six months later, he “found a huge white goose somebody had dumped in front of Lincoln Park.” He says he kept that goose for a few months and then took him back to the Fauntleroy shore to join the other six. “He mated with the female, and the next babies were white.” Two females from that group survived 18 years, he continued. “I had watched them year after year, taking my bike rides, they would see me and my yellow jacket and start squawking …”

He noticed that the females were laying eggs that never hatched, since there was no male. So he put an ad on Craigslist last year, he said, looking for one. “A lady responded and said, ‘if you want a male goose, his name is Sam’ … so I drove up last May,” and met her. Sam was in a cage in the back of the woman’s Humvee “with bowls of food like a pet dog.” He says she insisted Sam ride in the front seat on his way to his new home, and – “I honored her wish.”

(May 2015 photo, texted to us by a reader)
He introduced Sam to the two females; Sam mated with one, and the other at some point disappeared.

And so, the babies seen by many earlier this year were hatched. “I built them a shelter” next to one of the waterfront homes by the ferry dock, “brought food and water every day. She had five babies” but “stepped on” two of them, he said.

image1 (19)
(June 2016 photo contributed by Claudia)

Then he moved them to another waterfront yard but “Sam started taking them across (Fauntleroy Way) to find food, and two of them got hit.”

That was reported here after emerging in the comments on this story last July.

“We were left with one baby. And then a month ago, Sam disappeared. Neighbors said they heard a noise early in the day.” Based on a remark one neighbor reported hearing from a park visitor, they feared he had been caught to be eaten. Whatever happened, our storyteller continued, “no feathers (were left behind) … he just disappeared.”

After that, he said, he was contacted via e-mail, “several (times),” by a woman who said she had contacted “someone on Vashon” and said she was going to have them taken there because she was worried for them. “I wrote back and said, these geese have been there for 18 years, you have no right to do that.”

(The white geese of Fauntleroy’s shore, photographed May 2010 by Bonnie)

He believes she is one of the two who captured them. “The thing that disturbs me the most, the geese were down there by consent of the neighbors … while kids weren’t always kind to them, they were able to survive for 18 years. I have seen people at the park pet them, enjoy them, feed them .. they gave folks such joy … (the removal) has really destroyed something beautiful that was going on at the parks.”

He said one ferry-dock employee had watched them over the years; “I went to the ferry dock (once) looking for them, (an employee asked) ‘can I help you?'” He replied, “I was just looking for our geese.”

As he recalls it, she said, “YOUR geese? Oh, so what’s YOUR story? Everybody has a story about the geese.”

He explained he was the one who originally brought them to the Fauntleroy shore. “She opened up the back door of the toll booth and said, ‘I’ve catalogued “your geese” for the past 20 years and your story matches” (what she had seen).'” She had photos of them all, he said.

Now, the only photos you’ll see of them are via the BaaHaus page on Facebook.

We asked the BaaHaus rep what their lives will be like at their six-acre compound.

“BaaHaus provides a permanent secure home for its animal residents. Once the geese are out of quarantine … we will work to integrate them into the flock. Anyone who knows geese will tell you they are very smart and extremely social animals. The geese at BaaHaus form and re-form attachments all the time. Today we have six different enclosures where they spend the night depending on who they decide to settle in with at the end of the day. These enclosures are fortified against raccoons and other predators and contain covered shelter as well as water for swimming and drinking. During the day the geese roam the BaaHaus double-fenced acreage and play in the large 2 level pond.”

FOOTNOTE: The geese leave behind a sizable archive in the WSB Forums (170+ posts) and in our news section.

36 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: What we've learned about the Fauntleroy white geese's new life in Vashon, and their backstory"

  • Sara Lowe September 20, 2016 (1:39 am)

    Great article.  As much as they are missed, im so happy they are in a new, safe place.

  • Jeannie September 20, 2016 (3:04 am)

    Thanks for the follow-up, Tracy! I think this is a happy outcome for the geese, and it’s awful that people were actually making threats to BaaHaus. Honk if you agree! 

  • littlebrowndog September 20, 2016 (4:42 am)

    Hmmmm, a domestic breed of geese, “re-homed” near/in the park, fed and petted and enjoyed over the years but also harrassed at times, sometimes suddenly gone for a variety of known and unknown reasons.  How does that differ from a breed of dog that historically spends much of its time outdoors (say, a Great Pyrnees) and a pair dropped off to live near/in the park, with access to the picnic shelters during inclement weather, fed and petted and enjoyed over the years but also harrassed at times, puppies and adults sometimes gone for a variety of known and unknown reasons.  Would these domesticated animals be left to roam over the years?

    • chemist September 20, 2016 (8:10 am)

      A goose can thrive off an herbivore diet of grass while a dog and puppies can not, so there’s that difference in your comparisons.  They’ve bred, reproduced, and also had some support from nearby residents for well over a decade.  

  • newnative September 20, 2016 (7:21 am)

    The ladies seemed to fare well in the park but Sam was just too used to someone else feeding him.  

  • Gina September 20, 2016 (7:35 am)

    Maybe the Canada  geese will return without the domestic goose competition.

  • d September 20, 2016 (7:40 am)

    Looks like someone inadvertently broke the law and needs to make things right and bring those geese back home.

  • Kate September 20, 2016 (8:13 am)

    I would just like to thank the West Seattle Blog for their thoughtful and intelligent coverage of this issue. Thanks, too, to BaaHaus for all their hard work. Although the situation brings up a lot of mixed emotions I feel it’s important to note that the fact that this was an issue at all shines a light on a lot of positive aspects of our community. We live in a region where people really care about animals and our nature surroundings and that’s not such a bad thing. 

  • ACG September 20, 2016 (8:41 am)

    I was JUST thinking of the geese this morning and was going to send an inquiry to WSB to see if there were any updates – and, of course, WSB is on top of it!  

  • Rick September 20, 2016 (8:59 am)

    Gosh, can I just go pick up some white geese and take them to my lakefront property where they would be a wonderful addition and well cared for.  Err..I mean rescued to a safe place.  I think my neighbor’s Tesla would feel safer in my garage too.

  • ClayJustSayin September 20, 2016 (9:05 am)

    Finally.  I was wondering what happened to them.  They were a real joy just to have there.  Now at least I know what happened to them.

  • Yeaaaah September 20, 2016 (9:29 am)

    I’m so sick of people.  Why the threats?  Seriously?  Sick, entitled people. Glad the Geese have a better home.

    • Kersti Muul September 20, 2016 (10:04 am)

      Exactly, YEAAAH….

      It is entitlement when you make your own “suffering” greater than those who are actually in harm’s way. I have lived here my whole life and have witnessed such aggression towards these geese.  I have also seen them bitten in the rear by off-leash dogs….

      They were indeed a joy in the park, however as usual humans decide what is permissible in our “wild” spaces. Our enjoyment should never outweigh the right thing. I worried about these geese the whole time I knew of their existence. 

      The code referenced above should also apply to allllll of the incidences towards these geese, not just the people who grabbed them.

  • Kristina September 20, 2016 (10:13 am)

    While I thought it was fun to see the geese, they didn’t look particularly happy to me: when I would run by with my large, leashed dog they would chase us and honk and flap their wings, clearly telling us to get lost, and I am certain that is because other people let their dogs be aggressive with them.  The fact that several of them died recently is disturbing, and the fact that they had to leave the park to find food is also disturbing.  Wildlife has a healthy caution of humans, and seems to be able to take care of itself, but domesticated animals need help, and putting them out in public was often a disaster, with negative interactions mixed in with the positive ones.  It seems impossible to argue that things were going well for the geese, given recent deaths and continued reports of them being harrassed.  Their new home sounds like goose nirvana!

    While the individual who placed them in the park may have had good intentions, under no circumstances am I in favor of leaving domestic animals in our parks.  Usually it’s called “dumping” and I know that it’s not uncommon with cats (who become feral) or rabbits (who become coyote food or disrupt the ecosystem by eating the native plants); it’s not right for any breed of animal.  The fact that the geese were there for two decades makes them local celebrities, but it doesn’t make it “right”.

    If the person who put them in the park claims ownership and takes them back through the legal system (not sure the legal system would so so, but hypothetically speaking) I hope they do NOT go back into the park.  Treat them as the domestic animals that they are, and care for them on your property, where they are not at risk from the (foolish) public.

    While it was fun to see the geese, I am perfectly content to run alongside the sea lions, seas, eagles, herons, and occasional orcas or porpoises in the area.  We do not need geese to make Lincoln Park special.

    PS  A similar problem happened recently in Vancouver, BC, where they had to remove the swans – which I remember from my childhood – from Stanley Park.

    • chemist September 20, 2016 (10:51 am)

      Those Stanley Park mute swans were surgically altered/tendons cut so they couldn’t fly and their removal was co-ordinated with park management and a lot of community discussion though.

  • MTS September 20, 2016 (10:22 am)

    I loved the geese, but they never should have been left there in the first place. I’m glad they now have a safe home.

  • cj September 20, 2016 (10:25 am)

    Our beaches are not safe at all. Glad they have a safer place to go . 

  • waikikigirl September 20, 2016 (11:26 am)

    Look at that face on that picture of them at Baa Haus,  isn’t it the cutest thing ever!

    And on everything Kristina said DITTO 2 times!!! 

    Can someone remind me though so I don’t have to look back and read…which 2 are these, the Mom and a baby or??? 


    • WSB September 20, 2016 (11:33 am)

      Mom and baby. The dad hasn’t been seen since an early-morning round of squawking a few weeks ago.

    • JC September 21, 2016 (9:49 am)

      I was just thinking the same thing , those cute faces and all I can come up with was AFLAC!  LOL!  Glad they have a safe home.

  • Vanessa September 20, 2016 (12:28 pm)

    Too many people break the rules about keeping dogs on a leash. It was just a matter of time before another dog injured or killed one of these wonderful geese.  

    Thank you for the story.

  • Cove dweller September 20, 2016 (1:26 pm)

    Thank you WSB for your thorough reporting on this
    story.  We have enjoyed watching the
    geese and their comings and goings for several years.  But this story has made us more mindful of
    how we humans don’t always anticipate the consequences of our interactions with
    the animals that we love.  As your story
    points out, these geese are domestic rather than native waterfowl.  Yet, albeit with the mostly good intentions
    of humans, they made a life here. 

     Although the geese visited Lincoln Park regularly (probably
    because people fed them there), they spent their nights nesting on the beaches
    closer to the ferry dock, in the shelter kindly provided for them, and in the sea
    grasses.  For those of us who live on
    Fauntleroy Cove, we got to see the geese most often.  But, sometimes their honking could be loud,
    especially with Sam whose raspy voice often filled the Cove in the middle of
    the night, while his mate was sitting on her nest. 

    There are plenty of fascinating sea creatures and water
    birds, that frequent Fauntleroy Cove, to enjoy in their natural habitat.  For example, great blue herons come to fish
    at low tide almost every day.  There doesn’t
    seem to be a need to introduce domestic waterfowl into the equation again, as
    much as people enjoy watching and being around them.  This is especially true now, as there seem to
    be more and more members of the general public who either don’t know or don’t
    care how to properly act, or control their pets, around animals on the beach or
    in the park.

    We enjoyed you, Fauntleroy geese.  But, we are grateful you are in a good place and
    among friends.

  • waikikigirl September 20, 2016 (1:49 pm)

    WOW baby sure did grow up quickly!!!

     And WSB…thank you for letting me know which ones these 2 are and also your excellent coverage.

  • Howard September 20, 2016 (2:31 pm)

    Geese removed because of harassment and off leash dogs. So will we condone removal of all seal pups and marine life based on the same reasoning? Sure it was easiest to just remove the geese but it doesn’t solve the problem now does it? Write all the laws you want but it does no good without ENFORCEMENT. Just kidding enjoy your Starbucks. 

  • JoB September 20, 2016 (3:24 pm)

    I have a problem with people who take it upon themselves to decide what should be done about geese who have been living in the park for 18 years..

    • wb September 20, 2016 (9:51 pm)

      @JoB.  I have a problem with merely standing by while these geese were harassed and run over.  The minute anyone plucked even one feather off a goose,  opportunity for civil discussion was OVER.  The comment sections on this blog are filled with stories of people having to intervene and deal with idiots who were badgering and teasing the geese.

      I’ll say it again.  The BaaHaus folks and their volunteers are heroes.  I hope the geese have a lovely new stress-free life on Vashon.

  • Tanya Powers September 20, 2016 (5:04 pm)

    I am glad the geese are in a safer place now. Obviously if the babies were run over, it wasn’t safe.

  • Rick September 20, 2016 (7:50 pm)

    I’m tired of harassment by punk gang thug criminals. Relocate me to a safe place in Hawaii? Oughtta get the state to pay for it.

  • dsa September 20, 2016 (8:28 pm)

    18 years of freedom, now they are safely locked up.

  • aa September 20, 2016 (9:24 pm)

    What I appreciate most is that the person reporting this news story has the professionalism to share the facts and when I finish reading it I have no idea which way they wanted it to go.

    Great job! 

  • Kris September 20, 2016 (11:24 pm)

    Finally something interesting on WSB! Thanks, Read the whole thing.

  • Susan September 21, 2016 (10:54 am)

    Fantastic reporting Tracy. Thank you.

    IMHO, all the humans involved in this debacle are in the wrong. From the original person who put the geese in the park/cover, to the people who let their dogs and kids harass the geese, from the vigilantes who stole the geese and to the geese “sanctuary” people who now think they own the geese. Humans thinking they know what is best.  Human error all around.  It’s very sad to me.

  • BIRDWATCHER September 21, 2016 (12:15 pm)



  • Kara September 21, 2016 (3:21 pm)

    I think taking into consideration how  West Seattle has grown might be worth thinking about. It’s much more bustling now then it was 18 years ago. The original Geese may have done great, but it sounds like they were having a hard time of it more recently. These Geese were never “wild”. The environment had changed/grown/surge in population so they may just have needed a better location for their domesticated needs. 

  • Venus7 September 21, 2016 (9:43 pm)

    I’m so glad the geese are in a safe and appropriate home and sanctuary now – it’s far past due!

    This entire conversation, focused on the geese, has unearthed so many conversations that we, as a community, must need to have.

    Meanwhile, the salient points seem to be a little like learning Latin, one needs to repeat them over and over. So …

    1. First of all, when the geese’s owner originally, and continually, unloaded the geese at Lincoln and Cove Parks, that was abandonment, “dumping” them as some have referred to, he relinquished being their “owner” at that point.

    2. That “owner” explained to four of us last summer that while he and his daughter enjoyed the geese when they were little, they found they were more work and pooped too much once grown. So he dropped them off at the park – he abandoned his pets there, which is not legal to do, not to mention thoughtless of the geese – to put farm animals,  bred to be domestic, in a wildlife habitat. 

    3. The geese are not the original geese that were first abandoned at Lincoln Park 18 years ago. They are their descendants, and for all the 18 years of all of their lives, they have had no choice but to essentially fend for themselves to make their lives there. 

    4. When domestic geese mate with wild geese, the wild geese’s young are put at risk, forced to stay while their parents and flock fly away. (And by the way, the domestic geese of this breed, can only fly a short distance.)

    5. They were not only “picked on” or “bothered” “occasionally” by adults, pets, and children. They were viciously harassed most every day by many. We have had enough stories by plenty of bloggers to know that this is true, not to mention each of our own experiences. 

    6. Many a time, when we came to feed them, they were visibly shaken, and shaking, hungry for food and company that would not hurt them, and that would protect them. More than a few times, there was blood on them where people tried to pull off a feather for themselves. I, and plenty of others, have personally had to stop children, dogs, and adults from charging the geese.

    7. The geese were not “snatched”, “illegally moved”, ” stolen” from the park … several park and geese lovers have been very concerned for their welfare, especially as the weather turns to winter, and fewer of us get there as often to look after them. So we called PAWS, Animal Control, Bauhaus, other sanctuaries. And we persisted at it. It was 18 years overdue, for goodness sakes. Why did we, as a community, find it acceptable to allow this abuse of these lovely geese to continue for so long?

    8. BauHaus said they could offer them a home, even though they were filled to capacity. Animal Control had it on their list to pick them up and find them a suitable home and sanctuary, glad to hear that BauHaus was a willing home.

    9. The only reason they hadn’t yet picked them up was that they were backlogged with calls, and felt badly that the geese population had gone from 5 to 2, and that they were at risk while awaiting the Animal Control’s help.

    10. To answer to the WSB article’s saying that the “owner” “believed” that the woman who had called him was one of the people to “take” the geese, that person to whom he referred didn’t even know they had been picked up until two days afterward.

    11. To WSB: Reporting what someone “believes” is silly and is not news. And allowing threats to be published, by some people toward others, is not responsible journalism. And you are participating in journalism, therefore ought to be doing so responsibly.

    11. The people who did provide the geese a ride to their new home clearly knew what they were doing. We owe our thanks to them, the concerned citizens, the BauHaus, and Animal Control. 

    12. If any of us still want to ruminate about the wrongness of things – there are plenty of therapists around who are trained in how to handle your need to make this personal, and to make this into something it simply isn’t.

    13. Shall we turn our attention now to the greater conversations raised throughout this one?

    Like, how do we as a community want to hold each other to a high expectation as to how we treat each other, our dogs, the wildlife and parks we are so fortunate to know, live in, and love?

    Would we like to have monthly meetings where we choose an issue we want and need to, and really address and deal with it, then build a volunteerism throughout our community that helps each other in a real way?

    How shall we help children and families who are struggling and could use our thought and help? 

    How shall we see that no elder is alone, eats dog food, or is abused?

    More … ?

  • Smokey' mom September 22, 2016 (12:50 am)

    When I started work at the ferry landing in 2003 there 2 gray geese, a white duck(?) and a handful of non migrating mallards. The geese were the last to survive of the bunch. One day there was a large white male with them. The following spring they hatched three goslings. One of the goslings and the big male were killed. The gray mamas eventually died as well. The two offspring were  the two white females seen for quite awhile. Then “Sam” arrived. He mated with one or both and of this years brood was three. Two were killed by a car when they tried to cross the street. Soon after Sam disappeared. The two that were captured and taken to Vashon are an adult female and her offspring.  That is the history as I know it.  13. Yrs of feeling and watching them has been a pleasure.

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