Residents gathered at the South Gate pond on Monday morning as “Martha,” a beloved snow goose, was laid to rest in Ocean Pines.
Believed to be more than 10 years old, the goose was struck by a car near Food Lion on Friday. Residents remember her as the friendly white waterfowl with the broken wing.
“She’s an icon,” Tammy Fultz said. “People have so many photos of her and she’s been on the cover of local newspapers. I didn’t know her name was Martha – we just called her ‘bad wing. I think everybody had little nicknames for her. She’s been here since I could remember.”
Fultz, who moved to Ocean Pines in 2006, heard about the incident online on Friday just after 3 p.m. Worried that children might see her, she drove her pickup truck to the scene and recovered Martha, storing her in a spare freezer until a proper burial could be arranged.
A few hours later she received a phone call from General Manager Bob Thompson, giving her permission to bury Martha in an area just off the hiking path near the South Gate.
More than a dozen people attended the brief service on Monday.
Kristen Wood, who moved to the area in October with her husband, Rob, and their 21-month-old son Silas, said she was heartbroken when she heard the news.
“We’ve been here since Halloween night and we love walking around here,” she said. “We live just down in South Gate and we come down here all the time to watch the geese. Silas loved her.”
“Martha was special,” resident Donna Dillon said. “She was loved by many. She will not be forgotten, and now that she has a special place here it will be assured that she will be remembered. Rest in peace sweet Martha.”
Fultz said she hoped the incident would help change the perception of the local goose population.
“The more I thought about it the more I thought about what’s going on right now with the goose population in Ocean Pines, where Ocean Pines is trying to curb the population of the geese,” she said. “They’re oiling the eggs and they’re doing things that they’re allowed to do for the migratory birds – I don’t think they’re worried so much about our resident birds. But I thought this would shed a good light on Ocean Pines.
“She was an iconic bird,” Fultz continued. “Everyone knew her. The local residents appreciated her. We watched her for years. She had bad days where she would drag that broken wing, and then there were other days where she was better.”
After saying a few words Fultz placed flowers and a white ceramic goose over Martha’s final resting place. A permanent plaque commemorating the bird is expected to go up at the site next week.