Goose Exploding On Power Line Prompts Gunshot Calls In Thermopolis

Several Thermopolis residents called the police on Tuesday reporting loud gun shots near Hot Springs State Park. Turns out it was a large goose which flew into a power line and exploded. No one was injured (except the blown-up goose).

Andrew Rossi

March 13, 20243 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Nothing musters a police presence quite like a call of “shots fired.”

That’s why the Thermopolis Police Department jumped into action about 1:35 p.m. Tuesday when the local dispatch center “received multiple calls regarding gunshots” in a local neighborhood, according to a police report.

Turns out, there were no gunshots. What people heard was the loud retort of a goose exploding as it came into contact with a power line.

A residential camera in town picked up the audio from the incident. It shows an otherwise quiet, sunny afternoon in Thermopolis until at about the 10-second mark a loud explosion rings out and echoes through the neighborhood, sounding much like a gunshot.

The sonorous boom was followed by a power outage.

Whatever the situation, things were getting serious until Thermopolis police ferreted out the source of the sound. There weren’t any gunshots. The power line got goosed.  

“Long story short,” the department reports, “a goose hit the power lines near the Hot Springs State Park dog park.”

Apparently, the exploding waterfowl also caused two fuses to blow, which explains the boom and pop.

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A Substantial Goose

In his experience as a power lineman, former state legislator Tyler Lindholm is no stranger to avian-related outages. But Tuesday’s Thermopolis incident proves there’s a first for everything.

“These types of things usually happen with eagles and owls, critters like that,” he said. “This is the first time I've heard of a goose getting cooked.”

The reason for the goosing is simple science. Lindholm said the massive boom created by the goose is enough to piece together what happened.

“You need something that maintains current between the two phases,” he said. “Clearly, the goose in this situation was robust enough that it held current for a long enough period of time. That's what blew the fuses.”

Given the size of the sound, it’s no wonder why so many Thermopolis residents got goosebumps when they heard it.

“It went phase to phase, not phase to ground,” Lindholm said, explaining the electricity ran completely through the bird’s body. “I'm sure he was cleaned out after that.”

Lindholm also said bird booms can cause significant power outages.

“That’s what ends up happening is on these distribution grids and transmission grids,” he said. “If a short is detected down the line and it doesn't clear right away, it'll trip down the line and you can have substantial area knocked out.”

Given the outage experienced in Thermopolis, the goose must not have cleared the power line right away to blow the fuses. It might have flown directly into the fuses or possibly tried to land on them.

“Like I said, substantial goose,” Lindholm said. “It's not normal for geese. But you know, it's Thermopolis, so maybe it was enjoying itself in the hot springs.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at:

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter

Andrew Rossi is a features reporter for Cowboy State Daily based in northwest Wyoming. He covers everything from horrible weather and giant pumpkins to dinosaurs, astronomy, and the eccentricities of Yellowstone National Park.