by Anna Lehr Mueser
In summer, there are always ducks at Valley Green; that verdant ravine’s waters are alive with colorful water birds — wood ducks, mallards, Canada geese and domestic ducks and geese which have become wild. But there are always hazards for wild creatures, especially in the places where their paths cross our own.
This was certainly the case of a formerly domesticated duck recently cared for at the Schuylkill Center’s wildlife clinic. The duck was first spotted by Dr. Jennifer Muller, a Mt. Airy veterinarian who volunteers at the wildlife clinic near Valley Green Inn. The duck, identified as a female by her straight tail, had a fishing hook lodged in her mouth, making it impossible for her to eat.
Over the course of several days, Dr. Muller spoke with Rick Schubert, the clinic’s director, and Michele Wellard, a wildlife rehabilitator, about how to rescue the duck. Schubert and Wellard advised constructing a mesh net with weights around the sides. Dr. Muller was able to use this net to capture the duck and bring her into the clinic.
At the wildlife clinic, it became clear the duck had probably had the fishhook in her mouth for several weeks. She was dehydrated and emaciated and for the first few days of treatment. Schubert and Wellard fed her through a tube until she was strong enough to eat independently. They surgically removed the fishhook and treated her with antibiotics to prevent infection. With hard work and dedication from both Schubert and Michele and the clinic’s many volunteers, the duck recovered fairly quickly.
For the wildlife clinic, this is a particularly happy story. Often the animals brought there need weeks, even months of care, but this Chestnut Hill duck is doing well. A week after her arrival at the clinic, the duck was released back into the wilds of Valley Green.
More information at 215-482-8217 or www.schuylkillcenter.org.