Hope was a Canada goose illegally rescued during a legal special hunt
at New Jersey’s Ringwood State Park.
She had been shot in both wings and near a vital organ. Our side took
“possession” of her (if a wild animal can ever be possessed”) in
defiance of conservation law that said she belonged to the hunter. She
was relayed to a car outside the park and whisked to a veterinarian.
Over a three-week period she stayed in different homes and visited
veterinarians in an attempt to put her back together again. We had the
choice of leaving the shot in her body, which we were warned might cause
infection, or removing it with some risk as well. It was a group
decision to have the shot removed. The freedom we trusted would be
restored to her, and her name, would be a symbolic message.
Ann Ilkiw, an intrepid wildlife rehabilitator, spent many hours
caring for Hope to help mend her body. Ann sent the following letter to
the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese:
Saturday, Sept. 25th 1993, 11:50
Just learned Hope died while under anesthesia. She was not
euthanized. Her heart gave out and she died as she lived, fighting. The
day before, she had stood up on her own two legs, walked, escaped her
enclosure and managed to flap her bandaged wings while having a good
look around. She was happy when I found her.
Hope’s broken body gave way to free her soul. Now her spirit can fly
free in all of us if we let it.
She did not die in vain.
She was not an exercise in futility.
She gave me far more than I ever gave her.
She gave herself.
“Oh if I could only be half as tenacious as were thee.”
When we parted at the vet’s office she let me stroke her head, I
kissed it. Then, remembering herself, she bit me but not hard.
As a rehabber, I see death almost on a daily basis and I’ve come to
understand the significance and importance of it within the context of
one’s existence. Death is just the next step. I forget no one and I know
they are not gone. Just the same, this one comes hard. For me, this
issue is now personal.
Hope alive united us.
Hope dead, galvanizes us.
Hope was a lean mean fighting machine. And now there is a little bit
of her in all of us…
We buried Hope at Hidden Lake, a secret place where many geese meet
safely. She is back with her people. She is also buried deep in our
hearts. As I leave her with our love, I hope she is happy.
Henry Vth said, “In peace nothing so becomes a man as modest
stillness and humility. But when the blast of war blows in our ear then
imitate the actions of the tiger.”
This is war!
Ann placed an eternal flame on Hope’s grave that evening. Hope is
still our message.