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RED BANK: DUCKLING RESCUED FROM SEWER

Rescuers flushing the duckling from the sewer on Combs Alley. (Video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After more than an hour’s work, Red Bank volunteer firefighters and an animal control officer rescued a duckling from the borough’s storm sewer Thursday morning.

The effort involved opening a handful of catchbasins and using recorded duck calls to lure the finely feathered fowl out of an underground pipe about 100 feet long.

Fire Chief Bobby Holiday, in white shirt, and other volunteers tried to lure the duckling from the pipe. Below, firefighter and council member David Cassidy gives the duckling a goodbye caress. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The effort began shortly after 10 a.m. with reports that two ducklings had fallen through nearby sewer grills on East Front Street near Broad Street.

Sofia Rehder of Fair Haven told redbankgreen she saw the ducklings drop through the grates after helping them and their eight siblings safely march up Broad Street from Wallace Street.

“The mom cried a little and made some noise” before leading the remaining kids down to Marine Park, Rehder said. “It was upsetting to see. I was, like, calling my mom asking what to do.”

Working at a heavily trafficked intersection, volunteer firefighters opened five sewer grates and manholes, looking and listening for the animals. They eventually isolated chirping they heard to a line about 100 feet long beneath Combs Alley.

Using an app that played duckling chirps, they nearly enticed the baby out several times, before using a firehose to gently flush it into a net held by Monmouth SPCA Animal Control Officer Teagan Maurer.

There was no sign of the second bird, said Chief Bobby Holiday.

Maurer scoured the waterfront trying to find the duck family, but was unsuccessful. The duckling will be cared for by the SPCA and released in the same vicinity when it can survive on its own, she said.

Thomas Lloyd also witnessed the incident, from his car. He told redbankgreen after seeing a duckling fall through a grate, he pulled over, stopped traffic and then helped guide the mother and her children across the heavy traffic on East Front Street.

She led her remaining offspring down to the horseshoe boat basin in Marine Park and then into the Navesink River, said Lloyd, who escorted them the entire way to ensure they were safe. (See his video below.)

Ducks v. sewer incidents are not uncommon: redbankgreen documented a similar rescue on Broad Street in 2015. Holiday said the fire department rescued baby ducks from catchbasins four times last year.

Is it worth the effort?

“Honestly, the volunteers didn’t feel like it would be a waste of service to the community,” said first deputy chief Frank Woods. “You’re here to help anything. That’s what we’re here for.”

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