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Boston police save duckling that fell into sewer

The errant duckling was reunited with its family.
The errant duckling was reunited with its family.Boston Police Department

Boston police have ample experience tracking down suspects who duck warrants.

But on Thursday, police came to the aid of actual ducks who found themselves in dire straits in front of department headquarters in Roxbury. Police provided details via Twitter.

“Tremont Street inbound from Prentiss Street to Ruggles Street in front of BPD HQ will be down to one lane temporarily,” Boston police tweeted late Thursday morning. “BPD Officers are standing by awaiting Water and Sewer for a mother duck [whose] duckling fell into the sewer!”

Around 1:35 p.m., police said the duckling wasn’t doomed after all.

“#MakeWayForDucklings: With the help of @BOSTON_WATER the stranded duckling has made its way out of the sewer and into the loving wings of its mother!” police tweeted. “All 11 ducklings were safely relocated by Animal Control!”

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Police also posted photos to the department website of crews removing the sewer cover with a crane-like device and retrieving the duck with a shovel.

Scooped out of trouble
Scooped out of troubleBoston Police Department

Two nine-year department veterans, Officers Isaac Jackson and Dany Matos, arrived first on the scene and detailed the rescue efforts in a brief telephone interview.

Jackson said they were traveling in a cruiser on Tremont Street when they saw traffic backing up and two women trying to get the mother duck and “at least 10 or 11 ducklings to the sidewalk.”

Once the errant duckling fell down the sewer, Jackson said, he and Matos pulled over, stopped traffic, and contacted the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. Animal Control and the BWSC responded to the scene, and once the duckling was secured, the whole family was brought to Jamaica Pond.

“It was my first time” helping a duck on the clock, Jackson said.

Matos said he was happy to lend a hand and that the duckling’s mother was “clearly distressed” when her offspring fell down the grate.

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“We were relieved” once the rescue was completed, Matos said.

Boston police said in a statement that with “the assistance of Boston Water and Sewer, the duckling was rescued from the sewer and safely placed into a box with the other eleven ducklings” before they were taken to the more hospitable climes of the pond.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh praised the first responders who sprang into action during the midday duck debacle.

“All families matter in Boston,” Walsh tweeted. “Thanks @bostonpolice & @BOSTON_WATER for the assist.”

The travails of the Tremont duckling aren’t without precedent, according to the Wildlife Conservation and Management Program at Rutgers.

“It is quite common for ducklings to fall through the opening of storm sewer grates,” an entry on the program’s website says. “A mother duck can walk across the grate without a problem, and she may not recognize the inherent danger of leading her offspring across it. It is heartbreaking to watch a mother duck frantically circling the grate, calling to her young. Fortunately, we can lend her a helping hand.”

The site advises rescuers, “Using a long steel rod or crowbar for leverage, lift the sewer grate. Then use a kitchen strainer or other readily available tool to scoop up the ducklings and return them to their very appreciative mother. If you do not have a strong enough metal bar, or you cannot safely lift the grate on your own, call your local sewer authority or fire department. They are often very willing to help.”

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.