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Illinois hunting and fishing

Construction put off for momma goose and nest

April 23, 2011 at 10:49 PM

The State Journal-Register

A few weeks ago, workers in and around The Gables shopping center in Springfield adopted a mother Canada goose who built a nest on a median in the parking lot.

The employees of Chico’s clothing store, Jim Wilson Interiors, the State Employees Retirement System and others have been waiting anxiously for the eggs to hatch. The due date, they calculated, would be about May 1.

But the mama goose fans found out Thursday that a construction project on the SERS parking lot on Plaza Drive was set to begin Monday morning, and it was going to come very close to the nest.

At that, they sprang into action. Calls were made to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Henson Robinson Zoo, Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur, local media outlets and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ask for help in saving the nest.

Without any time to spare Friday afternoon, the construction project was postponed.

“That’s wonderful,” said Mindy Riddle one of the SERS employees who was concerned about the goose. “I’m very happy with that. When it comes to animals, I kind of go out on a limb.”

What tipped the scales was that DNR and the Fish and Wildlife Service both cited federal law that protects the goose and her nest. A permit is required before the nest can be disturbed.

“It is federally protected bird,” Januari Smith, spokeswoman for DNR, said after being notified about the situation. “DNR people are trying to get ahold of somebody at SERS to let them know in case they weren’t aware of the law.”

Dave O’Brien, director of the administrative services division at SERS, is overseeing the construction project. He met with DNR officers Friday afternoon. He said he had not been aware that the nest was protected, and he postponed the project when he found out.

The island median where the nest is, he pointed out, was never scheduled to be bulldozed. The asphalt around it is going to be resurfaced. And it still will be. But it won’t begin Monday.

“I canceled the demolition of the parking lot until this goose is gone,” O’Brien said. “I talked to DNR to see if the goose could be moved. They said no it could not be.

“It’s been here about four weeks. I’m hoping she’s up and gone before I come into work on Monday.”

Dave Bakke can be reached at 788-1541.

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