Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

Mutually-beneficial bond

Lansing boy, goose find relationship helps each other

June 8, 2006, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: June 8, 2006, 7:33 a.m.

Cameron Morris, 7, feeds a goose he befriended near his Lansing home. The goose provides a social bond for Cameron, who has been diagnosed with Asperger disease, which is similar to autism. In return, Cameron's family helped save a nest full of eggs laid by the goose.

Cameron Morris, 7, feeds a goose he befriended near his Lansing home. The goose provides a social bond for Cameron, who has been diagnosed with Asperger disease, which is similar to autism. In return, Cameron's family helped save a nest full of eggs laid by the goose.

Seven-year-old Cameron Morris has found a friend in a Canada goose that frequents the area near his Lansing home.

And they've both been helping each other.

Cameron has forged a relationship with the bird by feeding it daily. In turn, the goose has provided a social bond for the special-needs child.

In what might be the biggest gesture of the relationship, though, the boy's family has found a way to protect the goose's egg-laden nest from near-certain destruction.

Cameron, a special-needs child who is diagnosed with Asperger disease - a type of autism - "adopted" the bird about a month ago. He began feeding the goose, which makes its home behind an abandoned house near the Morris family home. In the past couple of weeks, the goose has grown so used to the feedings that she now will come to Cameron and eat out of his hand.

"This has been particularly therapeutic to him," said Cameron's mother, Karen Morris. "He's usually very timid and shy in social situations, but not with the goose."

About two weeks ago while trying to find the goose in the tall grass, Cameron and his father, Rodney Morris, accidentally discovered she was protecting some eggs on the edge of the recently drained water pond behind the house. The eggs were laid in what's now a construction zone for the new Eisenhower Crossings development on the southeast corner of Eisenhower and De Soto Roads.

Knowing his son's attachment to the bird, Rodney Morris last week approached the contractor working at the site to see if the eggs could be protected. Rodney Morris said Mark Linaweaver, president of Lansing-based Linaweaver Construction Inc., told him they had planned to level the area but would give the Morrises until the beginning of this week to move the nest.

Meanwhile, Rodney Morris began calling wildlife organizations to find out how or whether the nest could be moved without the mother abandoning the eggs.

Those calls led him to Kenny Kessler, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Turns out, Kessler told Rodney Morris, the Canada goose is a protected species and harming the eggs are against the law. Violators of the law are subject to fines that could reach $15,000.

Kessler, who is based at a field office in Linwood, came to Lansing and the construction site to notify the contractors of the seriousness of disturbing the goose eggs.

"The contractor agreed to mark the site off and make sure what they're doing didn't disturb the eggs," Kessler said.

The move seems to have paid off.

"Last I heard was the eggs had hatched and the goose had led the goslings to another location, probably where there was water," Kessler said.

He suspected the goose had taken her goslings across Eisenhower to a pond on the Armed Forces Insurance grounds. A visit there Wednesday morning didn't turn up any sightings of the family.

"Hopefully this has come to a happy ending," Kessler said. "It sounds like it has."

Cameron and his family, meanwhile, are out of town on a brief vacation and hope to find the goose and her goslings when they get back.

"Needless to say, my family is ecstatic from the news," Rodney Morris said, adding he was grateful for the actions of Kessler and Linaweaver Construction.

He said the assistance of the Fish and Wildlife Service and Lineaweavers was appreciated.

"No. 1, Special Agent Kessler really went out of his way on this," Rodney Morris said. "No. 2, Linaweaver has been very courteous, very friendly and very professional. This was not in their best interest to stop their project - they have timelines to be met - but they've been very cooperative."

As for Cameron, Rodney Moore said he was disappointed his son wasn't in town for when the eggs hatched.

"When we get back, I guess we'll go on goose chase - a wild goose chase - to see if we can't locate her," Rodney Moore said.

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