Police have launched an investigation into the suspected drive-by shooting of a goose in Hertfordshire.
While they had not originally intended to investigate the death, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire police told BuzzFeed News that following a strong reaction from the public, they have now dispatched a team of rural officers to the village of Sandon, where the incident took place.
The officers will "collect the goose" in order to determine the cause of its death, the spokesperson said.
Reports that the goose was shot are currently based only on eyewitness accounts.
Asked if this means there are plans to exhume the goose, which has been buried by the village pond, the spokesperson said it was important that a post-mortem was conducted by the Royal Veterinary College to confirm the shooting.
Following the post-mortem, the spokesperson said, Hertfordshire police will be working with the RSPCA to decide the best course of action.
Officers are also working with villagers to piece together an account of what happened.
Residents of Sandon were left devastated after the village's beloved goose was shot in the head and killed on Sunday afternoon.
The goose, who had lived in the village for 11 years, was shot on the Rushden Road pond in a seemingly random attack.
A man is reported to have leaned out of a 4x4 and shot the goose, the Daily Mail said.
While the goose sometimes became aggressive during the mating season in February and March, he retained a special place in the hearts of the people of Sandon.
Villagers said he could often be seen chaperoning young ducklings across the road and would also scare away foxes.
"It's really shocking. A lot of the villagers are feeling very sad – even though he was cursed as sometimes you couldn't post a letter without a stick," resident Gay Ayton told the Hertfordshire Mercury.
The bird, known simply as "Goose" for fear of jinxing his life if he was named, even features on Sandon's village sign.
The goose was raised by his father after his mother died shortly after he hatched.
"It was quite extraordinary – the father taught the little gosling to swim and fly, which was quite something to watch," Sandon resident Penny Wallbridge told the Mercury.
"People are very upset as everybody knew him.
"He was part of the community. There's a feeling of sadness."
A tribute to Goose has been set up in the village's phone box, where he liked to spend time.
Local schoolchildren were said to be very upset when the headmistress informed them of Goose's death, and many wrote moving tributes.
"Dear angry goose, I love you to bits, I'm sorry you died," one child wrote.
The children's tributes have been pinned up inside the phone box, which has become something of a shrine.
The goose has now been buried next to Sandon's pond, where he was born.
Police had not originally planned to investigate the goose-shooting but reversed their decision following public outcry.
News of the police's involvement in the goose case comes just days after officers in Wales deliberately ran over and killed a dog "so it wouldn't suffer". The dog's death has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
A Radio 2 listener offered £250,000 as a reward for identifying the killers, and another listener offered £25,000 to the killer if they handed themselves in to the police.
"The shooter – or shooter and accomplice, since it seems there was laughter from someone when the shot was fired – should definitely be brought to justice," Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine told BuzzFeed News.
"My worry is that the reward offers we very quickly collected seemed to be on the basis that the money would be given to the shooters 'if they gave themselves up'.
"We have now had dozens of people confessing to the shooting in a bid to claim the reward money, so I think that should be looked at."
Hertfordshire police's spokesperson said that there were very strict rules regarding the awarding of reward money but that they would have a clearer idea of whether this money could be handed over once a suspect had been established.
Additional reporting by Scott Bryan.
Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Laura Silver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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