ROCHESTER, Minn. — A group of ducklings in Rochester needed rescuing Monday morning, May 3, after nearly a dozen recently hatched babies fell down a sewer grate.

Rochester Post Bulletin District Manager Brad Kuehn said he saw the mother duck as soon as he pulled into the newspaper parking lot at 7:30 a.m. Monday. Kuehn said when he got out of his car he could immediately hear her distraught cries and could hear her babies chirping away from down in the sewer.

Kuehn called his wife and she called the city’s animal control department to come rescue the duckling.

A couple walking in the area, which is near Lake George, stood guard at the grate in an effort to spare the two remaining topside ducklings from joining their brothers and sisters below. The stressed mother duck paced around the area, at one point getting harassed by a mallard before the walkers shoo'd it away.

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Arriving shortly after 8 a.m. Community Service Officer Lisa Kelley said she had already done about a half a dozen duckling rescues this season. The events are always stressful, said Kelley, who works with Rochester Police Department's Animal Control.

“We want a happy ending,” Kelley said before trailing off, noting that it doesn’t always happen.

But Monday was a happy morning as mother and ducklings were reunited with little issue once the heavy sewer grate was lifted by Kevin Nelson and Ben Badker, members of the city's sewer crew.

Rescuers reach for ducklings separated from their mother in a culvert in the Think Bank / Post Bulletin parking lot Monday morning, May 3, 2021. (Emily Cutts / ecutts@postbulletin.com)
Rescuers reach for ducklings separated from their mother in a culvert in the Think Bank / Post Bulletin parking lot Monday morning, May 3, 2021. (Emily Cutts / ecutts@postbulletin.com)

Kelley and the two city sewer employees used a net and their hands to grab the ducklings out of the sewer — sometimes a scoopful at a time, and others one by one. Not only are the city sewer crew members necessary to lift the grate, but they can also help flush out nervous ducklings who waddle out of reach down a pipe.

As spring continues, there are likely more duckling rescues yet to come, Kelley said.

A concerned mother mallard duck hovers nearby while the rest of her brood are being rescued from a culvert in the Think Bank / Post Bulletin parking lot Monday morning, May 3, 2021. (Emily Cutts / ecutts@postbulletin.com)
A concerned mother mallard duck hovers nearby while the rest of her brood are being rescued from a culvert in the Think Bank / Post Bulletin parking lot Monday morning, May 3, 2021. (Emily Cutts / ecutts@postbulletin.com)