First came news of the Canada geese, one dead and two others alive — one of them captured and another still fluttering around a Castle Hills lake with a blow dart stuck in its head.
A photo of that goose, posted early last week to the Denton County neighborhood’s NextDoor page, elicited accounts and graphic photos of other wounded animal sightings in the upscale, golf-course enclave. They included similarly affected bunnies and birds as well as a rabbit and turtle, both dead with darts through their chest and head, respectively.
“Who kills an innocent animal and just leaves it there for everyone to see?” said resident Leigh Costa, an animal-rescue enthusiast who started a GoFundMe page to collect reward money in hopes of catching the person responsible.
“We will not tolerate this type of cruelty in Castle Hills!” the page reads.
By Friday afternoon, the troubling string of attacks had prompted residents to raise nearly $1,800 toward an original $1,000 reward goal, with a local couple pledging to add another $1,000. A Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden is investigating.
“People are incensed,” said resident Pamela Kowalski, who put together the reward flyer that has been circulating throughout the neighborhood. “They want this person put away. You don’t go to a community and kill their precious wildlife just for fun.”
The attacks are similar to an instance reported late last year in Frisco, where according to WFAA-TV a young bobcat had been struck in the eye with a similar projectile.
“I don’t know if this is the same person,” Costa said. “It’s so sick.”
The goose at the Castle Hills lake was first sighted on July 20. By the next day, residents, aided by Texas game warden David Spangler and a Lewisville police officer, had assembled at the lake where the goose lurched around, trying to catch it so it could get medical attention.
When Spangler tried to approach it, the goose fluttered about 40 away. “We just waited until it was sluggish enough,” he said.
Residents, some with nets, finally formed a circle around the goose, which was ultimately taken to the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hutchins.
“It took a village,” Kowalski said, “but we caught him.”
The dart that had pierced the goose appeared to be five or six inches long.
“It’s a heavy-gauge piece of metal, very long,” said Kowalski, a marketing technology professional. “It was way lodged inside that poor animal.”
Costa, a five-year Castle Hills resident who owns an ad agency, said all of the local instances have occurred within a mile radius.
Some think the perpetrator is probably a kid with too much time and too little parental supervision on his hands, while others fear something more ominous is at play. But since the issue has come to light, Costa said, no further incidents have been reported.
“Our concern is that once this dies down, it will start up again,” Costa said.
So far, local camera surveillance footage hasn’t turned up anything useful, and Spangler, the game warden, said he would be probing the incidents for violations of Parks and Wildlife code, such as hunting without a license or using illegal methods.
“We do encourage hunting, but ethically and within the bounds of the law,” he said. “This isn’t just plinking cans out of someone’s backyard.”
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the Denton County Sheriff’s Office at (940) 349-1600 or the Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Operation Game Thief at 800-792-GAME (4263).