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Thirteen ducklings spent half of April 25 stuck in a storm drain on Akron Road while their concerned mother stood helplessly on the metal grate above.
Jennifer Donten, who lives at 30 Akron Road in Ephrata, felt just as helpless. She said she spent more than four hours trying to find out who to call for a duck rescue. It turns out, according to her reports, most of the resources one would think of first either aren’t available, or didn’t have baby ducks as a top priority.
“It just made me so mad,” she said while trying to protect the mother from oncoming traffic. “What if those were your pets? No one seems to care.”
With the help of a neighbor and another concerned pedestrian, a tedious series of phone calls began around 8:30 a.m.
The first call was to the Ephrata Borough office, who said they would notify the public works department. When Donten talked to public works, she said she was told it wasn’t a priority and the ducklings would be OK. They called a local fire department, but were unable to reach anyone. They also called 911 and were told nothing could be done.
“ORCA is the designated agency to rescue the ducks,” said Ephrata Borough Manager Bob Thompson. “If the mother is causing a traffic safety issue then we will respond during working hours to try and mitigate the safety issue.”
Thompson was asked about the procedure should someone call the borough with this situation.
“We try to avoid customers being sent to other borough departments,” he said. “Our customer service representative should ask if the ducks are creating a vehicular safety issue. If no, they will be referred to ORCA. If it is a safety issue, our customer service reps will notify public works to investigate. The customer should not be bounced around.”
Next was the PA Game Commission, and they claimed that they would be unable to remove the storm grate. They called the Lancaster Humane League, which directed them to ORCA (Organization for the Responsible Care of Animals).
ORCA said they could help, but the Akron Road duck family would have to be put on a waiting list, behind a dying dog and a sick cat.
“We’re fourth of the list,” said a frustrated Donten.
So, who do you call when ducks need to be rescued?
As it turned out in this case, it was a reporter from the local TV station.
Peter Taraborelli, one of Blue Ridge’s main reporters, managed to get into the drain and lift all 13 fuzzy ducklings to safety. By the time the news van arrived, ORCA was on the scene and assisted with the rescue. A Game Commission official then took the ducks to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Steve Seeber is the associate editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4423.