Plumbers typically work with bathroom fixtures, kitchen sinks and other indoor piping, but on Friday, Aug. 8, Doug Hall – a plumber with the Weber State University Facilities Management department – was busy with another type of pipe and an emergency situation. The pipe was a storm drain, and the emergency was a family of ducklings that fell through the grate. According to KSL.com, the mother mallard was nearby and extremely agitated, but Hall and his coworkers calmly removed the storm grate, scooped up the ducklings one by one, and encouraged each one to return to its mother. The ducklings complied, stumbling and tripping over their own flippers in their haste.
The last of the four siblings, panicked at finding itself alone in the dark storm grate, ran up the drain pipe to an adjacent grate, but the workers persevered and the entire family was reunited.
Weber State University is a public university in Ogden, Utah, founded in 1889 as Weber Stake Academy and reaching university status in 1991. While the school's mascot is the Wildcats, they do love ducklings, and Hall commented that the maintenance crew rescues ducklings from storm drains 1-2 times each year. The site of this rescue was 300-400 yards from the university's duck pond, a popular spot for mallard families.
Mallards routinely nest up to a mile or more from the nearest water source, and after the ducklings hatch, the mother duck will lead them to the water for their first swimming lessons. Along the way, hazards such as storm drains, busy streets, fences and other obstacles may block their path, but mallard hens are tenacious and rarely abandon their ducklings. If you find a mallard family in distress, try to reunite the mother with her young (without trespassing, causing dangerous traffic situations, or otherwise endangering yourself), and if necessary, use the ducklings in a box or crate to help lead the mother to a safer location before releasing them. If there is no safe place for the ducks to take up residence, contact a wildlife rescue organization or local authorities for recommendations and assistance.