Duck Rescue Season has begun!

Hen on her nest in poor location

Hen on her nest in poor location

The Green Bay Duck Hunters Association Duck Rescue Program operates under the “wing” of the wildlife sanctuary as it handles federally protected waterfowl; Mallard Hens and ducklings, who fall into peril during the nesting season.

Duck Rescue Volunteer Staff respond during the months of April through August to numerous calls of ducklings in storm sewers, swimming pools and on roadways and other hazardous situations.

If you find ducklings nesting in your yard or in a hazardous situation contact the Green Bay Wildlife Sanctuary at 920-391-3671 or the Brown County Communications Center at 920-391-7450.

For more information, please contact Duck Rescue Volunteer Leader Joe Loehlein at 920-621-8950 or Dave Swanson at (920) 655 – 8474 .

Brief Background

The ‘original’ duck rescue program was started by founding members Milt Geyer and Ted Thyrion in the late ’70’s. They saw a need to rescue hens and ducklings found in city streets and hazardous situations. Pioneering “live duck capture techniques”, Milt & Ted, began an effort that has resulted in over 15,000 ducks being rescued to date.  Check out the original DUCKRESCUE.COM website.

The Green Bay Duck Hunter’s Association (GBDHA)’s Duck Rescue Program started in 1985, picking up where Milt & Ted, left off, and in 1997 current GBDHA members, Joe Loehlein and Tim Braunel, carried on the calling.

The calls vary from someone discovering a nesting hen in their front yard landscape to a hen and ducklings trying the cross a busy roadway. Volunteers have responded to ducklings on the Tower Drive Bridge and in nests in the crotch of a tree.

An example is a nesting hen is discovered in an unusual place or ducklings are caught up in a hazardous situation such as parking lots, construction sites, business or residential areas which a rescue is warranted.  The ducks find themselves trapped in swimming pools, back yards, in traffic and down in storm sewers.

A box type trap, with remote control, is used to catch and contain the ducks most of the time.  At times, we have to round them up by hand.  The trap is covered with a blanket to keep them calm.  Orphans ducks, brought into the sanctuary by the public, are paired up with a hen and brood before release to keep things as natural as possible.  The hen and ducklings are then transported to a wildlife area or marsh for release into the wild.  Locations vary so as to disperse the groups.

A hen typically lays a dozen eggs and incubates them for 28 days. After the hatch, as a group, the hen drys them and they are on the way! The ducklings are able to move, swim and dive and feed themselves at this point, less than 12 hours after hatching.

A clutch of Duck Eggs

A brood of duck eggs

Observation at a distance is encouraged, but please do not interfere with the natural progress.

Nesting hens will take care of their own food and water needs. They can be seen leaving the nest during early morning or evening hours to feed, water and exercise.

Placing any water or food near the nest will attract predators which are harmful to the brood.  Predators include crows, cats, raccoons, opossums and squirrels.

The closer to the hatch date, the more protective the hen will be. In the extreme case of a disturbed hen or abandoned nest, eggs may be collected and incubated at the sanctuary. In most cases the hen will nest again and raise a second brood but not always in the same place. Yearly, a returning hen may nest in the same location or within a few feet of it.

In partnership with the Wisconsin DNR and the US Fish & Wildlife Bird Banding Program, past hen mallards have been banded and the hatch data forwarded for study.

The volunteers of the duck rescue program are authorized under the Wildlife Sanctuary’s Federal Permits to handle federally protected waterfowl such as ducks. They received training in how to observe, capture, care and release the ducks found in perilous situations.

Our commitment is to conservation and stewardship efforts aimed at conserving our resources for all.  In fact, this under the direction of Joe Loehlein and Tim Braunel, this program has been awarded the WI Wildlife Federation’s “Conservationist” award for 2010, the Brown County Conservation Alliance’s “Conservationist” award, featured in Field & Stream’s “Hero’s of Conservation” and received a special recognition as a volunteer group award by the WI DNR.

You can observe our other projects and view waterfowl and wildlife at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary on East Shore Dr and at Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve on CTH J in Suamico.  CLICK HERE for directions.

The Green Bay Duck Hunters Association’s Duck Rescue Program was recently recognized for 35 years of volunteer service. The recognition came during the annual Green Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteers Dinner January 9th, 2017.

Thank you for all you do to Preserving Wisconsin’s Waterfowl Hunting Traditions !