A Bowker Creek duck was in good hands this weekend when several neighbours came together to remove a plastic lid from her beak. (Courtesy of Mack Kurtz)

A Bowker Creek duck was in good hands this weekend when several neighbours came together to remove a plastic lid from her beak. (Courtesy of Mack Kurtz)

Greater Victoria neighbours call for change after rescuing duck with plastic ring on beak

Loose recycling, garbage could be contributing to Bowker Creek pollution, neighbours say

Nature-lovers came together over the weekend in an effort to rescue a Greater Victoria-area duck found with a plastic lid wedged around its beak.

Mack Kurtz was walking his dog near Bowker Creek in Oak Bay when he saw a female mallard with plastic holding her beak open and immobile. Kurtz went home, dropped of his dog and grabbed gum boots. When he returned to the creek, he called several neighbours to join him in trying to corral the bird and cut off the plastic.

READ ALSO: Testing underway for Bowker Creek as a salmon habitat

But the duck flew out of reach, and staff at B.C. SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) recommended waiting until she tired. At one point, a dozen people were working to get a handle on the duck.

“It was struggling to get the plastic off its head,” Kurtz said. “It was putting its head underwater and kicking at this plastic with its feet and then going up onto the shore and dragging its head around through the dirt to try to get it off.”

Finally, Saanich woman Deanne Sharp was able to grasp the duck, thanks to some waterfowl expertise.

Sharp and her daughter, who raise backyard ducks, heard about the trapped bird from Facebook. They went out to see if they could help, and after several failed attempts Sharp picked her up in the darkness of a creek tunnel near Kings Road.

“Once you get (ducks) in the dark, they calm down immediately and stop moving,” she said. “So I walked slowly, I had a towel and I coaxed her into the tunnel … I was able to get her up against the wall and snag her.”

Outside, Kurtz was waiting with scissors to cut off the plastic. Afterwards they checked the duck’s mouth and neck for injuries before releasing her back into the creek.

READ ALSO: Bobcat frozen to train track near Trail rescued by a train conductor

“When I let her go she immediately swam over to the male (ducks) and had a big drink,” Sharp recalled. Sharp’s daughter went back to the creek Sunday and found the duck was doing well.

The duck’s story may have had a happy ending, but the plastic lid removed from her mouth was one of many pieces of garbage removed from the creek that day. In the water and on shore neighbours found bottles, coffee cups, plastic bags, wrappers, metal chains and more.

Kurtz speculates that nearby residents’ recycling – which is often put outside the night before pick up – is blowing into the creek, along with overflow from park trash bins.

“It’s pretty disheartening, there’s so much garbage in the creek,” he said. “I’m hoping we can just shine a light on this and either get some of those containers with lids on them or just try to educate people to get up and put (their recycling) out first thing in the morning instead of doing it the night before.

Sharp said, “It’s the same message we’ve been hearing for so long. You must not litter. Everything goes to our rivers and if that lid hadn’t ended up in Bowker Creek, it could have ended up in the ocean … we need to do better.”

Trash pulled from Bowker Creek over the weekend is just the tip of the iceberg, says neighbour Mack Kurtz. He wants to see changes made to help protect the creek from garbage and pollutants. (Courtesy of Mack Kurtz)

READ ALSO: Clean-up crew tackles Saanich’s Bowker Creek


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