Following the sad incident on Highway 1 earlier this month, when a mother duck got run over, leaving 13 orphaned ducklings, people are being reminded of how they can help keep ducks safe.
The ducklings were rescued and are now being raised at the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C., in Burnaby, a charity that cares for injured, orphaned or pollution-affected wildlife.
Ducklings and goslings have been hatching throughout the month of May and are susceptible to encounters with traffic, despite the best efforts of their mothers.
Mother ducks and geese have to lead their brood to water, but as their offspring can’t yet fly, they have to settle for hurried marches in single file to the nearest available water source. Often this means negotiating the scary noise and movement of roads and highways.
One of the key pieces of advice the SPCA gives is for well-meaning rescuers to consider the dangers before running in to save animals. Traffic hazards can be neglected in the heat of the moment and herding the birds can actually cause them to panic and scatter into traffic, exacerbating the situation.
The SPCA says the best way to help duck or geese families trying to cross the street is to seek assistance from the police to stop traffic. Once cars have stopped, they advise rescuers to slowly and calmly herd the babies and parents to safety. They advise only trying to trap and pick up a family if absolutely necessary for their safety. If the birds panic and scatter, the rescue and reunion can become more complicated.
Other advice regards drivers, who are asked to remain vigilant and pull over, and call animal rescue if they see a family of ducks standing tentatively at the side of a road. Drivers are reminded that human safety comes first though, and never to slam on brakes when faced with ducks crossing the road. Motorists who have caused crashes behind them due to braking for ducks have faced criminal charges in the past, such as a Quebec woman in 2014.
The SPCA asks that if you see any animal in distress, including wildlife, to call the toll free BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-6BC SPCA (1-855-622-7722). The call centre is open seven days a week: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.