RUMFORD — Henry the injured Canada goose has vanished from his Androscoggin River home of two years.
But whether the goose with the broken wing met foul play or fowl play wasn't known Tuesday.
“I fed him the morning of Jan. 27 and by 5 that evening he was nowhere to be found,” Alan Pratt of Mexico said by e-mail Tuesday morning.
“Either someone captured him or that big eagle got him,” Pratt said.
A bald eagle has been hanging around Henry's "yard" in the river area between Pennacook Falls Dam and the spillway behind the Rumford Information Center.
“No feathers, no blood; nothing,” he said.
A fisher that had been hanging around the site hadn't been seen for more than a month, but Pratt said the eagle was spotted there Tuesday morning.
“If the fisher had got it, then there would have been something there," Pratt said.
"If a warden or someone else or the eagle got it, then more than likely there wouldn't be anything," Pratt said. "The eagle would have lugged him off.”
Henry's 60 or so mallard buddies were still in the area.
However, with Henry gone, they spend their time along the ice in an adjacent canal when they're not being fed at the center by Pratt and his girlfriend, Annette Pratt.
A broken right wing had kept the goose from migrating, and his speedy reflexes had prevented locals or Maine wardens from moving Henry to a wildlife rehabilitator or to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray.
Unable to retrieve Henry, the Pratts and others decided to feed the goose after researching its nutritional needs.
Alan Pratt said people have checked downriver for Henry as far as the Canton Point Road in Dixfield and Canton, but have yet to find him or any evidence of his possible demise.
“I know the bald eagle is a big predator of many animals,” Pratt said. “I have seen shows where the eagle can lift and take animals almost twice their size.”
State wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey of Strong said Tuesday afternoon that Pratt's bald eagle theory had merit.
“It's very, very likely,” Hulsey said. “We've got plenty of eagles around. Yeah, it'd be very likely that that would happen, which is probably not the worst outcome in the world.”
Had Henry been captured, he'd have lived out his life in rehab, because wing injuries usually can't be fixed, Hulsey said.
Bald eagles are “a major predator on ducks along the coast, even perfectly healthy ducks that are under stress from the winter,” he said. “They feed a lot on perfectly healthy ducks.”
Hulsey said the eagle would also readily feed on Henry's mallard buddies, which the Pratts verified.
“We watched the eagle go after a duck a couple of weeks ago,” Alan Pratt said.
“The duck used herself as a decoy and let the eagle go after her and she out-flew him. She took the eagle over Rumford and Mexico and returned without the eagle.”
For the Pratts, who have nurtured Henry and fed him and the mallards for two years and watched his antics and unsuccessful attempts to migrate, Henry's disappearance has been like losing a family member.
“We go there each day to feed the ducks in hopes that Henry just got mislocated again like he has a few times in the past,” Alan Pratt said.
“We were always able to find him so we could get food to him, but this time, no sight of him since Jan. 27," he said.
"So, if he is still alive along the river someplace, he will probably die of starvation, anyways,” Pratt said.