On Campus, News

The Goose: “Newton’s Biggest Menace” Terrorizes Students

Christina Satina’s daily walk to Stuart Dining Hall on Boston College’s Newton Campus quickly took a turn for the worse when she found herself face to beak with “Newton’s biggest menace.” 

“I saw the goose on the grass and didn’t think anything of it,” said Satina, a resident adviser (RA) in Cushing Hall and MCAS ’23. “Next thing I know, I see the goose flapping its wings and squawking at me, so I take out my headphones, and it lowers its head and begins to charge at me. So I turned, and it pecked me in the butt.” 

The so-called “Newton goose,” which sits on top of the hill between Hardey Hall and Duchesne Hall, attacked Satina on the sidewalk outside of Hardey, she said. 

Satina said she did not sustain any injuries from the attack. 

“Just my pride was a little hurt,” she said. “My ego, a little violated.” 

But Satina is not the only victim of the Newton goose, which has become a Newton Campus celebrity in recent weeks for chasing and hissing at students who walk by its spot on the Duchesne hill.

Ashlee Morales, MCAS ’25, was walking back to Duchesne after dinner when the goose provoked her and her friends. 

“Usually the geese just ignore us,” Morales said. “But as we passed this one goose, it raised its neck and started running towards us. It was hissing and flapping its wings at us, really bizarre stuff. We started screaming and running away from it until we got to the bottom of the hill.”

Many Newton residents are fearful of the goose, Satina said, but still consider it an important figure on Newton campus. 

“A lot of people even give it little pet names like Harold, Peter, all of that,” she said. 

According to Satina, the goose continued to squawk at her after its initial offensive outside Hardey Hall. 

“I was like ‘Wow, you want to go? Okay,’” she said. “So fight-or-flight mode turned on, and I went into fight mode.” 

Satina then raised her arms in an attempt to make herself look sizable, and began screaming at the goose. 

“I’m from the Bronx,” Satina said. “So in the Bronx, the way we settle things is I started cursing the goose out. So I was like ‘You wanna f—king go. You bitch. I’m gonna merk you. I’m gonna eat your shit.’”

When the goose approached her a second time, Satina was prepared to fight back. 

“So I kicked it right in the neck, and the goose did a little squawk,” she said. “Then it backed up, turned around, and waddled away.” 

Satina said she felt empowered by the situation. 

“In the animal kingdom there are elephants, and there are lions, and then there’s Christina Satina, RA of Cushing third floor,” she said. “It was giving tertiary predator vibes.”

Morales said that while she was at first “terrified” by the attack, she now makes light of the incident but takes precautionary measures while walking around campus. 

“We’re all just making jokes now,” she said. “Everyone on Newton knows about it, and I know of a lot of other people who have gotten attacked.”

Hardy resident Caroline Linskey said that while she usually tries to avoid the goose, it only took one slip-up for her to fall victim too. 

“I was on my phone not paying attention, and I was walking by where it usually stands, just right by my door to get into my building,” Linskey, MCAS ’25, said. “It just starts running at me, and it was terrifying. So I just ran away, but it was very public.”

John Herrington, Hardey resident and MCAS ’25, had an encounter similar to Linskey.

“I was walking from the bus up to late night—it was around 9:30—with a group of my friends, and the goose just runs up on me,” Herrington said. “And it starts honking. And I back away, but it keeps on running. … It was aggressive for a solid like 15 seconds.”

The goose’s posture is intimidating, according to Linskey.

“It just runs right at you with its neck stretched out as far as possible, and it’s hissing at you,” she said. “Its feathers go behind it like it’s gonna start flying at you.”

Though the Newton goose has been spotted on campus for a while, it has just recently begun its attacks, Linskey said.

“It’s been there for a month, but I think it just recently got fed up with people instigating it,” she said. 

Satina said she believes the goose is acting aggressively because it has started a family on campus. 

“I can see it’s just being protective,” Satina said. “There’s another girl who lives on Hardey second floor, and there are actually eggs on the top of the roof. She has a whole timelapse of the mother goose. There are only about seven eggs, and they haven’t hatched yet.” 

But the “Newton goose” has already hatched its eggs, according to Morales, who said she has seen the goose with its chicks around Duchesne Hall. 

The Newton goose’s behavior is typical of one that is nesting, according to Bruce Byers, an associate professor of songbird vocalizations at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Birds are aggressive when they’re defending their nest,” Byers said. “They protect against potential threats and certainly geese and swans are known for … being aggressive species more generally.”

Although geese will attack you, Byers said, it is unlikely one will sustain injuries from the attack. 

“The goose can’t really hurt you,” he said. “They don’t have teeth or claws. It’s scary when they come at you, and they might give you … a small little red mark if they attack you on the leg or something like that.” 

If the goose survives another year, Byers said it is likely to return to Newton Campus to nest again.

“Many birds, including geese, have what we call ‘site fidelity,’ where they return to the same spot to nest from year to year,” he said. “There’s also reasonably high mortality between years, so there’s always the chance that the bird won’t survive next year. But if it does, there’s a pretty good chance that we’ll be back in the same place.” 

Satina said that she was surprised by the goose’s aggression considering how “docile” it was at the beginning of the academic year.

“But at this point do I want to walk outside with a baseball bat and beat it every time?” she said. “Yes.”  

According to Satina, students feeding the geese may have exacerbated the conflict. She urged Newton residents to err on the side of caution.

“There are other people that I’ve seen yelling and screaming, running away,” she said. “But I feel pretty good about myself, and I think the goose knows better than to mess with me.” 

May 6, 2022