State looking into death of Byram waterfowl pet

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    BYRAM-There was something about David, or that "damn thing," as Freddy Braun Sr. affectionately referred to the Canadian goose his wife, Christine, had adopted and nursed since finding the orphaned newborn nine months ago. Maybe it was the way the goose followed the Byram couple around their 25 acres of wetlands, in and out of their home off Lackawanna Drive near the quarry on Bank Street. Maybe that is why the Brauns considered David their pet. That is the reason Freddy and Christine were so devastated after finding the goose dead last week near their pond, its breast ripped from its body. "He was part of the family," said Christine. "You usually don't have a waterfowl as a pet. He was our gift." Byram police and the state Division of Fish and Game have been called in to investigate the events leading up to David's death, the Brauns said. The state Division of Fish and Game prohibits the hunting of all migrating birds, including ducks, pintails, Atlantic brants, and canvasbacks, after Feb. 15. Christine believes a neighbor trespassed onto her property and killed the goose. She pointed to footprints she found leading up to a nearby home from the pond the night last week when she went looking for David, but instead found him dead. "When I went down to the pond to get David, he wasn't around," said Christine. "He would know when it was time to come home. He would come out of the pond and follow me home." David had a thing for staying indoors overnight; he had ever since Christine found him under attack from other geese in a pond near Saint Clare's Hospital in Dover. That's when Christine decided to take the "chick-looking" bird home to Byram, where he soon outgrew a small box that Freddy had built for him. David had a thing, too, for the greens, fish food pellets and crack corn that Christine would give him to eat. On top of that, there were the daily trips back to the Braun pond, where David could feed on bites of algae. Eventually, Christine knew, and state officials recommended, there had come a time to leave the goose behind in a distant pond where he could learn to fend for himself. "It wasn't working," said the 51-year-old mother. "I had gotten attached to him and couldn't leave him. He also liked being where he was. There was no threat here." Certainly not from Christine, who remembers rescuing sparrows as a little girl. Or Freddy, who taped the broken legs of a deer he had accidentally run over. Not from the Brauns, who enjoy many of the sights Byram has to offer; bears, deer, turkeys, coyotes, and geese. Many of the same sights hunters are attracted to Byram for. "There are hunters and there are hunters out there," said Freddy, a 40-year resident of the township, retired now, but still working at the Byram Lakes Elementary School. "Whoever did this is not a hunter. Someone like this makes it bad for ‘real' hunters."