By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Tiny animal rescues usually include cats being stuck in trees or a raccoon making a home inside of someone’s roof.
But on July 14, a crew of three Wyoming Department of Transportation employees became heroes for a group of eight ducklings when they rescued the tiny birds from a cattle guard near Wapiti.
Jim Berry was one of the three employees who rescued the birds and told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that this is one of the more rare calls he has been on.
“We hear about broken fences and cattle, sheep or goats getting out and you have to wrangle them back in and fix the fence,” Berry said. “But very rarely do you hear of anything getting trapped in a cattle guard.”
WYDOT was brought in after other ways to save the baby mallards did not pan out, according to Susan Ahalt, the owner of Ironside Bird Rescue in Cody.
Ahalt was called early that morning of July 14 by a woman in Wapiti, who heard the ducklings cheeping under her cattle guard. Ahalt attempted to rescue the birds, but due to the weeds and depths of the cattle guard, she could not reach them.
About an hour later, WYDOT was contacted to see if any of its employees could aid in the ducklings’ rescue.
Berry, Shaun Emmett and Joe Klein arrived on scene about an hour later with a front-end loader to raise the cattle guard out of the ground enough to get the ducklings out.
“There’s a pond across the street from where they were in the cattle guard and ducks hang out over there, so I figure their mother was around there,” Berry said.
Berry believes that the ducklings walked away from their mother and when one fell into the cattle guard, the rest of them followed.
In addition to using the front-end loader to reach the ducklings, the WYDOT crew also had to use a blow torch to open the guard and get the ducklings out.
One by one, the men lifted the (likely, according to Ahalt) two-day old ducklings out of the guard and up to the ground above, where they ran around, slipping through everyone’s fingers.
Ahalt and the WYDOT crew finally gathered the baby mallards up and Ahalt took them to her bird rescue, where they have been getting regular food and water.
Once they are older, Ahalt will release them into a friend’s pond, Berry said.
“They seemed happy and healthy when we got to the ducks,” Berry said. “This is one of those times where you get a call and you might have other things to do, but there are eight little ducklings and people are concerned about them. So you get out there and help them and everybody’s happy.
Life is good at the end of the day.”