A well-known Connolly Ranch resident, Honker the goose, is missing. Volunteers aren’t sure whether to suspect foul play or not.
Honker, a large white Chinese goose, has lived at the west Napa teaching ranch for years, said Manager Thom Arcadi.
“He is one of the favorites of our kids and our ranch,” he said.
Honker was discovered missing on Monday, Nov. 12.
“We don’t know what happened, whether he was taken by some person or taken by some animal,” Arcadi said.
To add to the mystery, the same night Honker disappeared, a ram that lives in a nearby pen was injured. “Something frightened him and he twisted his leg,” Arcadi said.
Honker left no clues to his whereabouts. No goose remains were found, although some down feathers were seen nearby.
The goose was something of a celebrity to many visitors at the Browns Valley Road ranch.
“Everyone knows Honker,” volunteer Melanie Oberting said. “He’s like a Connolly Ranch legend.”
The goose had blue eyes, she said. “He will eat out of your hand. He will come right up to you.”
“He was so friendly,” Arcadi agreed.
“It’s real sad,” Arcadi said. “The children of our preschool program even made a little ‘Lost Goose’ poster. They went around to show it to the other animals.”
According to Oberting, besides the typical knob on the bill, Honker, who was named because of his distinctive vocalizing, has a brown feather “birthmark” on the left side of his face. He was one of about 10 geese on the ranch.
Not knowing Honker’s fate “is awful,” Oberting said. She is afraid something, or someone, took the goose.
“It would be very unlikely for him to leave his mate and the group” on his own, she said. If someone did take Honker, perhaps as a prank, “please bring him back, no questions asked.”
Connolly Ranch Executive Director Bob Pallas said that a week before Honker vanished, a turkey was attacked on the ranch by a predator. The turkey did not survive.
Pallas thinks the same animal that attacked the turkey and ram went after Honker.
“We’re guessing a predator grabbed him by the neck” after crawling under a fence, Pallas said. “We have seen coyotes in the hills,” he noted.
“I can almost guarantee it’s not a human being,” Pallas said. “Our gates are locked. Something would have had to climb over a gate, and come in and snatch that one goose.” He would have honked loudly, Pallas said.
While the children that visit the Connolly Ranch are sad Honker is gone, “this is just life on the farm, unfortunately,” Pallas said.