'It was pretty sad': Weekend duck rescue exposes litter problem in Saanich creek

When Mack Kurtz was walking his dog along Bowker Creek in Saanich on Saturday morning, he didn’t expect to become a hero later on in the day.

“My dog, actually, he’s a lab so he’s a little bit bird focused,” said Kurtz. “He noticed a duck that is clearly having some issues.”

The duck was obviously in distress.

“The duck's beak is wide open and it’s got what looks like plastic, clear plastic, wrapped really tight around its head and right through its beak,” said Kurtz. “It can’t get it off and it’s struggling.”

“It was pretty sad,” he said.

Kurtz took his dog home and texted his friend, Karen Hough, who lives nearby for help.

“Me and my husband came down,” said Hough. “My husband walked up the creek that way, I walked up the creek that way and I found the duck.”

She put out a call on Facebook for help and a small army arrived to help rescue the distressed bird.

“Actually, we ended up with about a dozen people down there,” she told CTV News.

Catching the duck turned out to be a problem.

“So it would fly from St. Patrick's School back to Richmond and then we’d try to get it there,” said Hough. “Then it would fly back there. That went on for a couple of hours.”

That’s when Deanne Sharp comes into the picture.

“I have some experience with ducks,” said Sharp. “With my backyard ducks.”

She managed to corner the water fowl near a culvert pipe where it couldn’t fly away. Finally, she got the duck into her arms.

“Mack cut the ring of plastic off of her beak,” said Sharp. “It was quite stuck around her head.”

“It felt pretty amazing,” said Kurtz.

A good feeling for all those involved. But there is an underlining problem here and that involves what started the whole ordeal in the first place.

“A lot of stuff gets dumped into the creek,” said Soren Henrich, chairman of Friends of the Bowker Creek Society.

Henrich went on to say that the health of the creek is quite good, but unfortunately a lot of discarded trash end up on its banks or floating on the water.

“We often have volunteer groups that do clean-up projects throughout the year,” said Henrich. “We pull the larger items out of the creek and they get hauled away.”

As for the health of the duck, it seemed to be alright.

“Her tongue was a little bit swollen but there wasn’t any open sore or any damage that I could see that needed to be attended to,” said Sharp.

A happy ending, but one with an important message.

“It almost takes that animal suffering for people to pay attention,” said Kurtz. “Just don’t litter.” 

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