Buck hasn't left his post for days in Buffalo cemetery
By NEALE GULLEY, Reuters April 9, 2011
A deer has been standing watch for several days over a female goose nesting in a city cemetery, a scene normally reserved for a children's movie."People always want to turn it into a Disney story, and in this case it's not far off," said Gina Browning, director of the Erie County SPCA.
For at least four days, the buck stood guard near the nest of a Canada goose as she sits on her eggs inside a large urn at Forest Lawn cemetery, home to the remains of former U.S. president Millard Fillmore and rock icon Rick James.
"He does appear to be guarding the goose, as it were," Erie County SPCA Wildlife Administrator Joel Thomas said. "He's within touching distance of her - there's no doubt what's going on."
The deer, which he said looks like a buck that has not yet started to grow antlers, has not strayed from his post.
Employees at the cemetery were alerted to the situation after the animal positioned itself between the bird and an employee of a company that traps and relocates geese, which Thomas said have become a messy problem in large numbers.
"When he approached the bird with a net, the deer puts itself between him and the bird, and he's repeated that behaviour for some time," he said.
Typically positioning himself broadside to any car or passerby who comes near the nest, the deer stares intently until the potential aggressor moves on, he said.
Why the deer has chosen to champion a bird of a different feather is a complicated question, Thomas said. Although interdependence among species in the wild is not unheard of, Thomas said whatever is causing this animal kingdom alliance is anybody's guess.
"From a human standpoint we can fill in a lot of blanks, but it doesn't mean we're right," he said. "Does he know she's nesting? I don't know. Is he going to leave when the chicks hatch? I don't know."
One thing is clear: It could go on for some time. The gestation period for a Canada goose is up to 31 days, Thomas said, with the nesting season only just beginning. Normally both male and female geese share the task of keeping the eggs warm, but the expectant mom at Forest Lawn appears not to have that luxury.
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