More than a dozen oily mallards are undergoing care in Burnaby after being rescued from a polluted South Surrey pond this week.
Janelle VanderBeek, care co-ordinator at the Wildlife Rescue Association, said 15 of the ducks are being treated and cleaned – including five confirmed males and five confirmed females, some with chemical burns – and three more are the focus of an ongoing rescue effort.
“These animals won’t survive without care and without being cleaned,” VanderBeek told Peace Arch News Friday.
The association was alerted to contamination at the pond – located on property in the 18800-block of 8 Avenue – on Tuesday (Oct. 6), by officials at Hazelmere RV Park and Campground who had reported a sheen on the water that had been there for four or five days.
A WRA volunteer sent that day to scope out the extent of the problem saw two ducks that had been impacted by the pollution, but was unable to catch them, VanderBeek said.
Wednesday, two volunteers dispatched to the scene caught three affected ducks and it was estimated at that time that five more of the 18 known to call the area home were also affected.
But on a return visit Thursday, one staff member and three volunteers rounded up 12 more ducks.
After stabilizing them, cleaning got underway Friday. With 10 to 12 people on the task, five ducks were cleaned by 3 p.m. and VanderBeek expected at least another three would be cleaned by day’s end.
She said the contaminant has not been conclusively identified, but is believed to be oil-based paint.
It’s also believed the substance was intentionally dumped in the pond.
VanderBeek said for the ducks covered in it, “it’s like wearing a wet blanket.” Without help, they are at risk of hypothermia and death.
While it’s “looking good” for most of the rescued ducks, VanderBeek described the situation as “so sad and so unnecessary.”
And with no one liable “at this point in time,” full cost of the cleaning and treating – estimated at $35 per duck, per day, and expected to reach between $7,000 and $10,000 – falls to the association, which relies heavily on donations to operate.
“We’re hoping the public will be able to support us,” she said, noting donations can be made online at www.wildliferescue.ca or by phone, at 604-526-7275. Just under $3,000 had been received as of Tuesday morning.
Sixteen ducks are to remain in care until they are fully recovered and the pond has been cleaned; the latter process reportedly got underway Thursday. Ducks that remain at the site – they have eluded rescue because they are still able to fly – will continue to be monitored.
“Once it’s fully cleaned and once they are fully waterproofed, we’ll be letting them go in the same spot.”
Noting the facility routinely receives two or three animals a day from the Surrey area, VanderBeek said there is also a need for transport volunteers in this area who can help out when the need arises. Those interested may also call 604-526-7275.