Sunday, May 26, 2013

Not Making Way for Ducklings....

It was one of my son's favorite books as a child: Make Way For Ducklings.
We were first introduced to the book by my New England born sister in law.  It tells the story of Mrs. Mallard and her dangerous journey across a 1930's era Boston with 8 ducklings in tow, from the Charles River to the Boston Public Gardens, when they can frolic around the lake being  fed popcorn by the tourists in the  swan boats.  Along the way the entire
Boston PD turns out to block all the intersections for the Mallard family.
The book is a classic, a medal winner, with witty text and beautiful illustrations.
For years I read it to the Boy, and later his sister, nearly every night.  Just as I can still recite all of Goodnight Moon without looking at the book, I also have the Mallard family's name imprinted on my brain: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.

When the Boy was small we made several trips to Boston where we rode the swan boats and he happily played on the statues of Mrs Mallard and family that still march into the Public Garden.
However I have come to the conclusion that this book is dangerous, as it seems to have given the public a mistaken idea of the police and fire departments' role in dealing with animals. Especially, in this case, ducks and geese.

This time of year we often have ducks and geese choosing to nest in the city.  Eventually they, like Mrs Mallard, will attempt to migrate their hatchlings to the nearest body of water. Unfortunately this often involves marching across busy streets or even major highways. 

Bring on the 911 calls. 

"9-1-1? You need to get someone out here on the expressway. There's a family of ducks trying to get across the road and one of these cars is going to kill them."

Politely I (or my coworkers) explain that we have no one to go fetch the ducks. The animal warden only deals with dogs and cats, the police and fire department only deals with people.  Wild ducks, moreover, tend to object strongly to being picked up and moved, which could cause injury to whatever good Samaritan tried to help them along,  Meanwhile it isn't feasible to close down a major highway till Spring is over. 

Most people say they understand and hang up, but some people get downright hostile when we explain that we can't help the baby ducks.  We get accused of wasting the taxpayers money (but can you imagine what would happen if we arrived late to a bank robbery because we were rescuing ducks?)

By the way, before you ask, there are no cat skeletons in trees either.  They really will come down before they starve.

Here is what I find really sad.  It becomes very clear during these calls that many people are far more distressed by animals in danger than people in danger.  I loved animals very much, but their safety is not  generally a higher priority than that of people. This especially includes the officers and firemen who can get injured trying to perform such rescues.  And especially not animals that are dumb enough to camp out on the interstate. 

We're not making way for ducklings.....


This post is part of the I don't like Mondays Blog Hop. Lots of awesome people post to it each week, or stop by and read all the posts, and you should too. Click on the link and check it out.


  1. I bet people get pretty uptight with you guys! I would never do your job. Of course I would also probably be the idiot running into traffic to shoo ducks off the interstate.

  2. I get more upset when I see an animal hurt in a movie than a person. Unless it's a child.
    I'm weird like that.

  3. People call 911 for the most bizarre reasons. Thanks for hooking up to the Hump Day Hook Up

    1. Thanks for stopping by Mollie, Glad you enjoyed it.