Lake Worker Gets Probation for Hitting Goose

Marty

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By Ed Zieralski
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

November 1, 2002

Diane Dine remembers how fluffy white the goose was and how royal blue its eyes were when she first saw it at the entrance gate to Lake Sutherland. "It had the most beautiful blue eyes," Dine said.

It was early March, and Dine couldn't resist picking up the abandoned domestic bird and taking it down to the lake, where she's an assistant reservoir keeper for the city of San Diego's Water Department. Dine said she had no problems with the goose in the nearly 3-1/2 months it lived at the lake. But many others did, including reservoir keeper Mark Stalcup, her supervisor. "The thing was a pain in the butt," Stalcup said. "It chased after fishermen, bit them and even their kids. I don't know how many times I had to chase it off the dock."

Stalcup said he was ordered by his supervisor, City Lakes program manager Jim Brown, to get rid of the goose. He said he told Dine several times that the bird had to go. But the goose stayed, and Stalcup became more irritated. On June 15, Stalcup, a 23-year Water Department veteran with 13 years as reservoir keeper, took violent action, yielding consequences still being felt today.

Stalcup, 43, told investigators from the San Diego Humane Society that he got a stick, estimated at 3 feet long and 2 inches in diameter, from the trash can on the dock, took a full back swing and smacked the goose in the head. The blow severed the goose's upper beak, took off part of its head and left its lower beak dangling by a thin strand of tissue, according to a report from the Fund for Animals in Ramona, where the goose was taken and had to be euthanized.

Humane Society Capt. K. Beauregard and officer Margaret Lenoir arrested Stalcup and charged him with felony animal abuse. On Oct. 22, Stalcup avoided a trial that he feared would turn into a "media circus . . . with animal-rights groups showing up" by pleading guilty in El Cajon Superior Court to a reduced charge of misdemeanor animal abuse. He was given a one-year probation that will require him to do volunteer work, pay court costs and restitution, the total amount to be determined later, said El Cajon Assistant District Attorney Allison Worden.

Stalcup said he didn't think he did that much damage, and told investigators the goose wasn't chasing or attacking anyone at the time. "He pleaded guilty because he realized he was dead in the water," Worden said. "The Fund for Animals had pictures and a video of the goose, how it looked. It was horrible. I couldn't bear to watch it."

Beauregard thinks Stalcup should have been charged with more than a misdemeanor. "Frankly, I firmly believe the injuries done to that goose did rise to the level of a felony," he said. Stalcup has kept his job as reservoir keeper at Lake Sutherland as city officials investigate the matter, but still faces discipline. Stalcup's supervisor, Brown, said he had no comment on the case because it involves a personnel matter.

Stalcup said he wants to keep his job. He cited his years of service at the City Lakes Office, his volunteer work as a hotline operator for Project Wildlife, his donations to the Nature Conservancy and nature hikes he has led in various areas of the county. "In my 23 years, I've never been in trouble," Stalcup said. "I'm a good guy. I'm not an animal beater. "I'm not trying to defend killing it, but it wasn't my intent to kill it, and I'm sorry all this happened. I know it looks terrible. . . . I realize there were other ways to handle it."

Chuck Traisi, who operates the Fund for Animals with his wife, Cindy, and staff in Ramona, euthanized the goose after Jesse and Ramona Hernandez of Santa Ysabel brought it there on the evening of June 15. Jesse Hernandez said his parents and his 3-year-old son saw Stalcup hit the goose.

"Before we went kayaking, (Stalcup) told us he'd give a reward to anyone who killed the goose, but we figured he was joking around," Jesse Hernandez said. "When we got back, my son and parents were upset because they saw him hit the goose. My son asked me to catch it and help it."

Traisi didn't hesitate in euthanizing the bird. "It would have been incapable of self-feeding and incapable of performing any necessary preening functions," he said. Stalcup compiled a list of 15 fishermen who could verify that the goose was "aggressive and threatening." Several said they and their children were bitten.

"It got my 9-year-old son," Victor Lozoya of El Cajon said. "That damn goose bit everybody," Tony Roberts of Ramona said. "It bit me three times." Both, however, said they felt the punishment didn't fit the goose's crimes.

Dine, who now must work with Stalcup at the lake, was bothered most by the fact that he didn't tell her about the incident and watched her as she looked for the bird for several days after the attack. Dine found out about the goose's demise when Humane Society investigators put handcuffs on Stalcup. She broke down and cried.

"I'm not saying the goose didn't bite people," Dine said, "but was that enough reason to kill it like that?"
 



Bishop

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He should have quietly taken the goose home and cooked it. The only crime here is bad judgement.
 

songdog

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A goose with blue eyes? That's a new one.

We're headed down a long downward spiral with these folks...
 

shaginator

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Stalcup: "...it wasn't my intent to kill it..."

Full swing at goosie's head? I think he meant to kill it. That bumble and form of barbarism deserves some kind of punishment. I'll have to think a bit more about whether he should lose his career over it.

Now: The Right Way would be to put it in a sack. In the olden and golden days, it would give you the right to claim your modus operandi as "I'm hungry!" and axe it out of the sack and serve it with a nice ginger glaze after roasting.

In these more modern and confusing times, goosie gets a trip to the humane society. Maybe it gets gassed and then incinerated, or sent to mortal dangnation at a petting zoo.
 

SDHNTR

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This is sure to get out of control. Too bad, he sounds like a good guy who just got frustrated and made a bad decision. The right thing to do would have been to aid in the goose's dissapearance after hours. I've been chased around by a huge goose before and they do pack a punch if they get ahold of you. I do think I would have made sure the job was done the first swing. At least then the Fund for Animals wackos wouldn't have gotten involved. I know from the first line about the blue eyes BS this was going to be irrational.
 

Hogskin

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The guy is a government employee so right out of the gate you know he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
He obviously chose the wrong method but he was justified in wanting to whack the thing.

Regards,
Paul
 

rusman66

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He should have waited for the blue eyed goose
to attack then just called it self defense.

And if we are gonna consider animals the same as humans, who gives Chuck Traisi the authority to euthanize anything? Doesn't the Goose have the "right to choose"
I think the fund for disfigured animals should file a lawsuit against the fund for animals.


Stalcups judgement


Touchy feely reactions
 

huntducks

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When I read something like this I get this hopeless feeling, too bad the goose did not grab the 3 year old by the nose
BLUE EYES GIVE ME A BRAKE.

When I was growing up we had ducks, geese & chickens, my dad had a tree stump & a sharp AX for all that did not lay eggs or conform.



STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF.
 

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