Ducklings rescued from sewer in Lewiston

LEWISTON — Morning in the city sewer system?

Rich Burton

Ducklings shown after they were cleaned up by animal rescuer Rich Burton, who plucked the animals from a sewer in Lewiston Friday morning.

Just another day in the life of animal rescuer Richard Burton, who climbed down into the sewer beneath Randall Road on Friday to scoop out seven ducklings that had fallen through a grate.

It wasn't easy. The tiny ducks kept swimming off into the dark. A net broke and there was a log to be tripped over.

Then there was the fact that it was a sewer, which just complicates everything.

"It didn't smell so great down there," Burton said.

It happened Friday morning when a mother duck went waddling across a sewer grate, presumably to get to the other side. Her ducklings tried to follow, but they didn't have the same girth as their mom.

"They're smaller than the slots on the grate," Burton said. "One by one, they just dropped down into the sewer."

Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout went to the scene and tried to retrieve the ducklings with a net. Big problem: His net did not reach down far enough to get the job done.

Strout called Burton, who has a collapsible net that will reach just about anywhere. Burton, famed for rescuing cats, raccoons, skunks, bats, seagulls and other critters from seemingly intractable predicaments, went to Randall Road.

It looked like it was going to be an easy job.

"I got four of the little ducks into the net," he said. "And then it broke."

The ducklings went plop again. Now, there were several would-be rescuers up on dry land, but no practical way to scoop the ducks out.

Except maybe for the ladder.

"I said, 'I guess I have to go down in there,'" Burton said.

And down he went.

"I looked and there they were, a bunch of ducks swimming around in the sewage," he said. "I started scooping them up with the net, but I didn't get all of them. I could hear one duckling calling from far off."

That duckling had paddled off through the muck and into the dark. Above ground, Strout and some city officials who had come by to help began trying to figure out exactly where the duck had gone.

Burton climbed back up the ladder with the grimy ducks he had scooped from below. They followed the sound of the crying duck and narrowed down its location.

"Sure enough, it popped up in a pipe," Burton said.

The only thing left to do was capture the mother duck and take them all to a more suitable location.

No such luck. Momma duck didn't want to go. Attempts to grab her were futile, although Burton got close.

"I reached for her, but she started to fly off," Burton said. "I tripped over a log and down I went."

The mother duck evaded rescue, but Burton had the babies. He took them away, cleaned them up and took them to the home of Jen Lewis of Misfits Rehab in Auburn. Lewis will care for the ducklings until it's time to set them free.

As for Burton, it was shower time before he was called off to another rescue in another part of the state.

He regrets nothing.

"I wasn't about to let those ducks drown down there in the sewage," he said. "No way."

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



Steve  Dosh's picture

Ducklings rescued from sewer in Lewiston

Mark, Saturday 10:30 hst •
. ." His net did not reach down far enough to get the job done. "
Ugly ducking ? Smelly Ducking ? Bigger I S better in this case :)
We call Animal Control Officers like that here groms ( grommets ) or Nené in Hawai'i * *<;Q~
Mongeese are called squirrels •

 's picture

awwwwww! what a crappy yet

awwwwww! what a crappy yet rewarding job, saving cute little baby duckies!

 's picture

Happy Endings

Surely this is a lovely little story except for the separation of these lucky ducks from their mother. As I read through the story I was a bit shocked though actually. Entering a confined space is serious business. Emergency responders and workers required to enter confined spaces are required to complete many hours of training and follow established protocols to prevent deaths such as occurred in September of 2011. Confined Space entrants must have training, a qualified attendant, a rescue plan, air quality monitoring for explosive gases and oxygen levels, and protective clothing appropriate for contact with 'potentially infectious materials'. I considered that the headline could have read "Two local men die in Lewiston sewer attempting to rescue ducklings". Why two? That's how it usually happens. The first entrant is overcome by sewer gas or lack of oxygen and the second person tries to save the first victim. (Check out these case studies at NIOSH:
There were more than four lucky ducks in this story.

Steve  Dosh's picture

. .Randy , Saturday 12:31

. .Randy , Saturday 12:31 hst ?
We eat duck , chicken & other fowl , tom turkies , cornish game hens , green sea turtles , eggs of all c o l o r s , dolphin fish , Mahi' mahi , dorado ( they are all the same thing ) , sahimi , sushi ( although i do not care for the seaweed or rice :) Healthy Food for Lazy People public - created 08/10/03
You know who you are . . . you want to walk in harmony with the earth, eat happily, healthfully and cherish your body like the awesome temple that it is. But the temptation ..! You know who you are . . . you want to walk in harmony with the earth, eat happily, healthfully and cherish your body like the awesome temple that it is. But the temptation ..!This is the tribe that strives to prove that you can have it all . . . healthy food, rock-hard abs, a holistic lifestyle **and** enjoy it in style . . . less h t h , /s Steve , odd duck ?

Kim Waite's picture

Awwwww, a good story!

Thank you Richard!

Steve  Dosh's picture

t y v m Mark !

t y v m Mark !


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...