The image was difficult to view without wincing: A flock of Canada geese — some with arrows protruding from their heads, and others mangled by fishing lures — paddling through the Black Rock Canal on Thursday.
At least one person was so disturbed that they reported the incident to Erie County's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
But, when wildlife officers arrived to capture the geese for treatment and rehabilitation, the birds avoided them.
Officers spent up to four hours trying to coax the geese close enough for a rescue to no avail.
"We made rescue attempts but weren't able to get the geese," said Gina Browning, an SPCA spokesperson. "If they take off, there's only so much that can be done."
As traumatic as the injuries appeared, the geese were able to get away by swimming or flying, seemingly unaffected.
"It's so hard to get them," said Barbara Haney, the SPCA's director of wildlife. "They still can fly."
How often does the SPCA respond to calls like Thursday?
"I don't want to say it's frequent, but really I can't say it's infrequent," Browning said. "It's been cats, it's been dogs, it's been geese and it's been turkeys."
Last year, the SPCA officials tracked another goose in Williamsville that had been shot with an arrow.
"I'm not surprised," Haney said. "This is stuff we continue to see, and that's why we're here."
Haney added: "It's sad."
The SPCA said its primary mission was to secure, treat and rehabilitate the injured geese.
Only then might it possible to investigate who did it using identification marks on the arrow or though other means.
But, often in cases like Thursday's, there's not a lot that can be done in tracking down those responsible for injuring wildlife and prosecuting them, officials said.
"That's a tough one," Browning said. "Without a witness, or without cameras, it's tough to find someone."
It's why the SPCA relies on the public to help provide information about injured wildlife, and tips about cruelty to animals.
The SPCA's main wildlife number to call from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. is (716) 875-7360, ext. 247.
An after-hours emergency hotline is also available from 8 p.m. to midnight. That number is (716) 712-0251.