If it weren't for the Heart River: Dickinson animal control officer returns ducklings to the riverA mother duck got a lot of attention in downtown Dickinson Monday morning as passersby worried about her nine ducklings that were trapped in a storm drain near City Hall.
A mother duck got a lot of attention in downtown Dickinson Monday morning as passersby worried about her nine ducklings that were trapped in a storm drain near City Hall.
Vern Nelson, Dickinson animal control officer, rescued Mom and the baby birds and took them to the Heart River.
He said this is the third year in a row he has rescued ducklings in the area and suspects they belong to the same mother duck.
“She has taken them all the way downtown to the fire hall and that’s the last time I took them out of the sewer drain,” Nelson said.
Janice Palmer of Dickinson saw the family of ducks out the window while she was at work Monday morning.
“Sure enough she took them right over that grate and down they went. There was only one that didn’t go down,” Palmer said. “She kept going back and forth over the grate when she lost the first eight and then the next time I saw her she was by herself so I assume the ninth one went down too.”
She called all over trying to get somebody to help.
“I was so upset that nobody was doing anything,” Palmer said. “I’m glad everything turned out wonderful.”
Within an hour Nelson was pulling the ducklings out of the drain with a net. He put them in a pet carrier and then in a nearby garage at Laugh and Learn Daycare to protect them from predators.
Several hours later when the mother came into the garage looking for her babies, Nelson trapped her, too.
In 2010, ducklings were trapped in a yard on Third Avenue West.
“Just instinct brings them back year after year and the only thing I hope is the other ducklings don’t realize this and then start coming back,” Nelson said.
Melissa Stockert, who owns Laugh and Learn, said the ducks are a familiar sight.
“Last year they were actually inside of our fence and we brought all of our kids out to see them,” she said. “They were all just in a row behind her, so it was kind of cute.”
Stockert saw the mother duck by herself Monday.
“She was mad. She was looking for them (ducklings),” Stockert said. “She’s quite a loud little lady. She makes it known that she’s here.”
Sometimes the little ducks aren’t so lucky, Nelson said.
“Usually what happens is they will get flushed down through the sewer system and go right out to the river,” he said.
Nelson has witnessed ducklings wash out into a drainage ditch near the spillway.
“Then she’ll fly down and bring them all back again at night,” he said.
Nelson added the sly mother protects her ducklings well by tricking animals and people.
“She’ll start limping like she’s injured and keep leading you away from the babies — typical duck,” he said. “I tell you wildlife is wonderful.”
Nelson hopes the mother keeps her family near the river. “I think she’s going to find it more pleasant,” he said.