Four newly orphaned ducklings sought safety inside the South Cariboo Visitor Centre at 100 Mile House on Monday, July 30, after their mother was killed by a car in Centennial Park.
It was a tourist from Vancouver who witnessed the hit-and-run and brought the ducklings to the Visitor Centre, according to Val Streber. The visitor information counsellor said she had helped the woman earlier that day by recommending a good place to bring her dog for a nice run.
“She says, ‘You’re the nice lady that has all the answers’,” said Streber. “She was very upset about finding these ducks.”
Having been in this situation previously, Streber quickly got in touch with the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS).
Sue Burton, a volunteer in Williams Lake, answered the call and advised Streber to line the box with grass, to keep the ducklings comfortable in the interim.
She then reached out to her partner, who works near the centre, in 100 Mile House. He agreed to bring the ducklings back for a second chance.
“They end up here and we determine what kind of ducklings they are,” said Burton. Then they find the right breed of mother and try to assimilate them into the family, sneaking them in with the other babies.
“It’s quite successful with water birds … they don’t count, I guess.”
Burton said there’s always the risk of baby birds bonding with people who find them, “but it seems like as soon as you put them in the water and they hear the quacking or honking they say, ‘Oh, wait a minute, I know that voice,’ and off they paddle.”
The odd time they don’t bond with the new family right away, she said, “It’s absolutely murder trying to get rid of them. You put them down and you run like hell and they run after you,” she laughed. “You’ve got to be sneaky.”
SCARS is a non-profit wildlife rescue that rehabilitates “anything that’s small enough that can’t eat us,” said Burton. Volunteers fundraise to pay for medication and local animal doctors pitch in with pro-bono work. The main B.C. office is in Quesnel, but Burton volunteers all around the Williams Lake area.
This was not the first time the Visitor Centre has (temporarily) cared for an animal as it waited to be re-homed. It’s not even the second or third. According to Streber, they’ve seen many injured or orphaned animals. Two of the most memorable examples are when mushroom pickers brought in an injured fawn and tourists brought in a baby owl.