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The goose is loose

Rumour mill in overdrive

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Arviat (Jun 06/01) - The story of the goose that laid the golden egg took on a whole new twist in the Kivalliq recently and could have been one of the best April Fool's jokes in recent memory.

Nunavut wildlife officer Joe Savikataaq of Arviat says when the rumour of the $1-million goose first surfaced more than a month ago, his staff ignored it.

However, not only did the rumour persist, it began to spread and grow in intensity, prompting the need for action.

"Our manager, Dave Abernathy, contacted the Canadian Wildlife Service just to make absolutely sure there was no truth whatsoever to the rumours," says Savikataaq.

"Once we knew for sure the story was totally false, we immediately began to squash the rumour in town."

The rumour revolved around a mysterious snow goose in the Kivalliq with a special neck or leg band.

One version of the tale had the goose escaping from a government experiment with valuable information contained in a data chip em-bedded in its collar. Another had the goose carrying a top-secret tracking device.

Whoever shot the goose and returned the band would, supposedly, be rewarded with $1 million.

"We're not sure exactly who was supposed to pay the $1 million or where the rumour started, except that it appears to have originated in Arviat and spread throughout the Kivalliq region.

"Just the fact this story promised a chance at winning $1 million had everybody talking about it and the rumour continued to grow."

Savikataaq says he's not sure how many people actually went out on the land looking for the valuable goose.

He received calls from people in Arviat, Whale Cove and Chesterfield Inlet regarding the tale and the regional office also received calls from people in various communities.

The callers received a definite "No!" when they asked wildlife officials if the rumour was true.

"I don't know if anybody actually believed the story, but they sure talked about it a lot," he says.

"I was thinking of saying not only do we have a $1-million goose up here, but we've got a $500,000 swan too. I figured that would cost me my job though, so I didn't do it."