It’s not every day you see a Saanich Animal Control officer elbow deep in a storm drain, but that was the scene at St. Andrew’s Regional High School on McKenzie Avenue on Friday morning as staff, students and an officer worked to rescue eight ducklings.
When Danny Brock, the school’s religion teacher, got to campus at about 9 a.m. on May 7, he spotted a mother duck with her 11 fuzzy babies trailing after her. But by the time principal Glen Palahicky arrived 30 minutes later, there were only three ducklings and the mother was hovering near a large storm drain in the front parking lot. The educators quickly realized that the other eight ducklings had fallen through the large slats in the metal drain cover and called the Saanich Police Department.
|Saanich Animal Control officer Derek Rees and some helpers rescued eight ducks from a storm drain at St. Andrew’s Regional High School on May 7. The mother and her 11 babies were safely released at Swan Lake. (Photo courtesy Glen Palahicky)|
Animal Control officer Derek Rees rushed to the campus. While they waited, Brock, Palahicky and some students captured the mother and three remaining babies so they wouldn’t be separated from the ones waiting to be rescued.
The rescue party discovered the eight fallen ducklings had made their way through an underground pipe and ended up in a connected storm drain on the west end of the property. Rees removed the cover on the second drain and began scooping the ducklings from the mucky water with a large net as mom and siblings chirped and quacked loudly.
Storm drains are the worst because the slats are large enough for ducklings to fall in, Rees said. It’s a common occurrence and ducks follow each other so when one goes in, the rest tumble in too.
He said Saanich Animal Control has already had about five calls for ducklings in storm drains this season.
Luckily, the campus was nearly empty on May 7 because everyone had the day off for parent-teacher day so there wasn’t any traffic, Palahicky said. Once the whole family was in a kennel, he helped Rees with the release at Swan Lake and was pleased to see them waddle off into the marsh safely.
Anyone who spots a duck family somewhere unsafe can gently capture them and release them somewhere duck-friendly like Swan Lake, Rees said. Those who spot ducklings in a storm drain should call the Saanich police non-emergency line at 250-475-4321 to reach Animal Control.
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