DNR asks public for tips after goose shooting in Watertown 'It's a public safety issue'

The retention pond where a goose was fatally shot in Watertown on Saturday. (Image courtesy of the MN DNR) (FOX 9)

When residents of the Forrest Hills development in the north side of Watertown heard a series of popping noises on Friday night, many thought it was the kind of fireworks that can be common in the summer months. 

But then a woman saw an injured goose flailing around in the water of a retention pond. Soon, it stopped moving. 

As news of the incident spread on Facebook, residents reached out to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Conservation Officer Alexander Birdsall arrived the next morning and began an investigation, retrieving the goose from the pond and conducting a forensic field necropsy.  The entrance and exit wounds told a story: someone had shot the bird with a small-caliber rifle.

"Typically, we don't get too bent out of shape of a single goose getting shot… But what makes this one unique was it’s a housing development. Someone is using a small-caliber rifle within close proximity of multiple houses," he said.. 

While the bird was hit once, witnesses told Birdsall they heard at least three shots, leading him to conclude that some of the bullets likely missed their intended target, which he said was a public safety issue.  "And with bullets having the ability to ricochet off water, going into houses with children playing nearby, it's kind of a troubling thing that someone would do such an act and it established a city housing development," he said. 

So far, Birdsall said he believes this is an isolated incident and that no one had reported the goose as a nuisance.  "As far as we were aware, it was only two geese that were there in that little retention pond," he said. 

The DNR asks that anyone with information call their tip line at 800-652-9093