Despite the efforts by a group of animal activists, animal lovers and local volunteers, a baby duck that became trapped in a drainage line at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson of Maryville still could not be located when the volunteers resumed their search Sunday.
The group had been looking for the lost duckling since it accidentally slid into a PVC pipe that connected to a drainage line Friday. Three other baby ducks that had been wandering around the dealership’s parking lot were found and reunited with their mother.
The concerned citizens initiated their search Friday afternoon and reported they heard the duckling respond to recordings of a mother duck played into the pipe. A remote camera lowered into the opening also caught images of the baby duck inside.
When the group returned Saturday morning, they dug a large hole down to where the pipe intersected the drainage line. At first, they believed they had again heard the duckling’s response. However, by midday, they were unable to detect any evidence of its presence.
The searchers resumed their search Sunday, but no sounds emanated from the drainage line.
Sue Burda of the Humane Society of East Tennessee, one of those who had overseen the effort, offered three possibilities. The duck either went to a farther portion of the pipe and was unable to hear the recorded duck calls, it had found some other means of escape through an outlet or it had not survived its ordeal. She added that they had tried to find the mother duck and its flock to determine if the baby had managed to rejoin them, but the ducks were not found.
Burda added the hole would be filled in.
With the weather forecast predicting rain, Burda believed the resulting rising water in the drainage pipe could wash the duckling to a drain opening sometime later in the afternoon. She said Robin Granger, her Humane Society colleague, would return periodically to try to find the duckling if it is washed out. She expressed hope that regardless of whether the animal was alive or dead, they would be able to retrieve it.
“That’s the best we can hope for at this point,” she said. “It would be good to simply have closure.”
Burda said despite the uncertain outcome, she is confident the volunteers did everything they could. She also said she was heartened by the community’s response to the duckling’s plight.
“Something positive did come out of this experience,” she said. “As difficult as it was, it’s good to know that people will come together to try to help a tiny creature.”