At least 30 geese may have been inhumanely slaughtered at Rowan Memorial Park
SALISBURY — At least 30 domestic geese were apparently slaughtered, either by shooting or by clubbing them to death, over recent days at Rowan Memorial Park.
Volunteers with Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail retrieved the final three birds that made the cemetery’s lake their home early Thursday evening.
“We found plenty of shotgun shells,” said Angela Santaniello, a volunteer with Carolina Waterfowl.
The volunteers employed kayaks in the water and had other people on the bank to help secure the final two birds — a duck and an Emden goose.
Blood was splattered on the goose.
Most of the birds killed, in what’s thought to be a management company-sanctioned removal, were domestic, non-flighted geese — essentially farm animals.
Santaniello said the killings were an inhumane way to remove the birds, many of which had been on the site for years and were regularly fed by visitors to the cemetery.
“We would have gladly removed them for a fee or donation,” she said.
Local employees on site were as equally upset, but they could not comment. The lake still had a population of 26 birds when employees left Wednesday night, but all of the geese and ducks except those few traumatized birds rescued Thursday were gone when the employees arrived to work at 8 Thursday morning.
“We want to make it clear the employees at Rowan Memorial Park had nothing to do with this,” a Facebook post by Cabarrus Trap-Neuter-Return said Thursday. “It was a property management firm.”
StoneMor Partners of Levittown, Pa., is the parent company. It owns 277 cemeteries and 90 funeral homes in 28 states and Puerto Rico.
Those on the scene early Thursday evening said it was apparent the large number of geese removed overnight Wednesday had been clubbed to death. There was evidence of boats going into the water, they said.
The “removal” of the birds apparently started early Sunday afternoon with the shooting of at least five birds, according to a visitor.
Capt. John Sifford of the Rowan Sheriff’s Office said a deputy responded to Rowan Memorial Park about 1 p.m. Sunday after a 911 call reported that someone in a green pickup was shooting ducks at the cemetery.
The Sheriff’s Office report said, however, the deputy and a cemetery employee could not locate the pickup or any injured ducks after their investigation of the site.
On Monday, a caller told the Sheriff’s Office she had owned one of the ducks shot on Sunday, but she was going to take care of it, Sifford added.
Carolina Waterfowl also said someone had been shooting the birds in broad daylight.
“The shooters shot across the lake scaring the domestic geese and ducks toward a high bank,” Carolina Waterfowl posted. “When trying to escape the bullets by jumping up and struggling to get out of the water, they were shot against the high bank.”
People visiting the cemetery at the time yelled at the shooters they were going to call the police and they were scared off, Carolina Waterfowl reported.
“This is a cemetery where people walk,” Santaniello said.
Barbara Gibson of Faith was at the cemetery’s lake Thursday evening, but none of the two geese captured was her “Jack-Jack,” a goose she brought to the lake nine months ago and continued to visit regularly.
Jack-Jack would eat corn out of her hand, she said.
“We knew these people were coming today,” she lamented about the team, which must have gotten rid of the birds overnight.
One of the geese rescued was found along a road. It was scared, as were the other two still in the water, Santaniello said.
She said Carolina Waterfowl once removed 75 domestic geese from a site and found new homes for them.
Santaniello said one of the geese rescued Thursday had been shot and she expressed concern about the suffering it must have gone through in the recent 20-degree temperatures.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.