Update 19/07/2022: This article has been updated with comments from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game
A gaggle of dead and decapitated geese was found in Idaho after the 4th of July weekend in what wildlife authorities suspect may have been a malicious attack by a human.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) says that three groups of Canadian geese and their goslings were hit by a car along a 183-meter (200-yard) stretch of road in Bloomington, Bear Lake County. In each location, the heads of many of the dead geese were removed and taken from the scene.
It's not certain how the decapitations occurred, but authorities have ruled out the possibility of an animal scavenging the bodies.
“It is [...] possible decapitation could have happened as a result of the vehicle collision itself. At this point, it is not entirely clear how decapitation occurred,” Jennifer Jackson, Regional Communications Manager at Idaho Department of Fish and Game, told IFLScience.
“The timeline does not really lend itself to a scavenger scenario, however, because the reports came in so soon following the incident, and the investigation commenced very quickly. Regardless of the cause of decapitation, the point remains that someone intentionally ran over three separate groups of geese and their non-flying goslings on the same section of road over this past Fourth of July weekend,” added Jackson.
Struck by the grisliness of the crime, the IDFG has asked anyone with any information on the incident to contact Senior Conservation Officer Kolby White in Montpelier at 208-204-3921 or the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999.
“Callers can remain anonymous and rewards are available to those with information that leads to an arrest,” they said in a press release.
The Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is native to North America but has been introduced to other parts of the world. Some populations breed in Canada and the northern United States in the summer months and can migrate down as far as the southern US and northern Mexico during the winter. Other populations of the bird species can be found in Idaho all year round and are extremely common in the state.
It is legal to hunt Canada geese in Idaho, but people must follow a number of rules and regulations.