Road kill is taking on new meaning in Moses Lake, where dead geese are dropping into Interstate 90 traffic after being plugged by careless hunters.
Shocked drivers swerve to dodge the feathered carcasses, sometimes unsuccessfully. One shot fired across traffic sliced through vinyl siding on a house.
“My house is just peppered with shot from the shotgun,” says Leroy Ledeboer, who lives next to the freeway.
Alarmed by the wild gunplay, Ledeboer and his son, Lanny, decided to do a little hunting of their own, using a borrowed video camera to capture the hunters’ antics on film.
Wide-eyed Grant County sheriff’s deputies were convinced.
“It’s just a matter of time until a goose falls through a windshield, or we have a shot coming down on a car, or a car swerving to miss a goose crashes,” says Undersheriff Mike Shay.
Hunting is outlawed in Moses Lake, but it’s legal outside the city limits south of the freeway.
The hunters, Shay says, are taking cheap shots, killing geese that winter on Moses Lake seconds after they fly across the city limits looking for food. The area south of Marsh Island has been a popular hunting spot for years.
Now hunters line the freeway to shoot fowl flying over country property, says Ledeboer, a free-lance outdoors writer.
He is worried about drivers, especially streetwise people passing through from bigger cities where freeway shootings are frighteningly commonplace.
“How are they going to react when all of a sudden a gun is going off right outside their window?”
At first, the goose hunters insisted they were following the law by keeping their feet outside the city limits.
Then Shay told them about a state law that prohibits shooting alongside or across a highway.
“No hunting” signs will be posted immediately, he says.
The hunters, says Shay, are mostly teenagers and young men who aren’t particularly adept at hunting in the wild.
“This is an easy place to kill a goose,” he says. “It’s convenient. It’s close.”
Ledeboer went so far as to tell the freeway hunters about his favorite goose-hunting spots, farther from town. The hunters turned him down flat.
“They’re frustrated because they don’t have the boat, the dog, the equipment,” says Ledeboer.
His neighbors are resting easier since the sheriff’s office announced the no-shooting zone, Ledeboer says.
“As hunters,” he adds, “we don’t need bad publicity like somebody getting killed by a falling goose.”