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    Mallard's distress attracts rescuers

    One attempt to capture the duck, which has an arrow in its neck, has failed. Another bid is planned for today.

    By MAUREEN BYRNE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 13, 2001


    SEMINOLE -- If all goes well this morning, a mallard should feel a lot better.

    For two days, a sharp instrument that looks like a 5-inch dart has been lodged in the duck's neck.

    Employees at Bardmoor Outpatient Center, where the duck spends some of his mornings, noticed the dart early Wednesday.

    "It's a nasty thing," said Dr. Bob Krupa. "Someone shot that duck with an arrow."

    This morning, an ambulance driver for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a rescue volunteer with the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary will try to capture the duck, if it shows up at the medical center.

    If they succeed, they will take him to the bird sanctuary in Indian Shores, where he will be treated and released.

    "They have to be quick," said Connie Brooks, manager of the SPCA's shelter in Largo.

    Chris McCarthy, the SPCA driver, tried to catch the duck Thursday morning, but it flew away. So McCarthy and Charlann Mason, the volunteer for the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, will try again this morning.

    It's not an easy job, Mason said.

    If a duck will eat from a human's hands, Mason said, she can catch it with her own hands. Otherwise, she must use a cast net or a net attached to a long pole, she said.

    A large retention pond is behind the outpatient center at 8787 Bryan Dairy Road. A couple of mornings a week, the mallard and his female companion visit the medical facility.

    "They just hang out in an outside lobby area," said Cher Bahret, a technician at the medical center.

    When they appeared Wednesday, employees and patients noticed the dart. "The patients were just flipping out," Bahret said.

    Several of the employees tried to catch the duck, but it flew off. "We went everywhere looking for him," Bahret said.

    They never saw it again the rest of the day. Thursday, Bahret called the SPCA to ask for help.

    "He's not in distress," Brooks said. "But it's probably painful, and we've got to get that dart out of there."

    -- Reach staff writer Maureen Byrne at 445-4163 or at byrne@sptimes.com.

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