A distressed mother duck whose ducklings fell eight feet down a storm grate Saturday was relieved when Salisbury police and fire department workers rescued nine of her offspring in West Salisbury.
A tenth duckling might still be missing, police said.
The ducklings were following their mother in a line when they fell down a storm grate on Flexer Avenue and Imperial Drive, according to Salisbury Police Officer Bryan Losagio, who assisted in the rescue.
"We got a report that a distressed mother duck was circling the sewer grate," said Losagio, who drove to the neighborhood at about 9:45 a.m.
When Losagio arrived he saw the duck, who was clearly upset, flying around the grate and quacking. Neighbors, who had called police, were gathered near the grate.
Losagio surmised the mother duck's feet were wide enough to clear the spaces between the grids on the grate, but the ducklings' were just too tiny and dropped about eight feet .
When Losagio, who was now joined by Officer Michael Palansky, looked down the grate they could see the gaggle of ducklings. The pair lifted the top of the grate but there was no ladder from which to descend. That's when they called Western Salisbury Fire Department for assistance.
Fire Chief Steve Schneider tied a rope around his waist and dropped down the hole. He grabbed a handful of the baby ducks and stuffed six in a bag, but about four others scurried down the narrow sewer pipe about a block towards the next grate, Palansky said.
The fire department tried flushing them out with water, but when that failed, Schneider, the rope still tied around his waist, backed into the pipe and crawled about 300 feet on his hands and knees and grabbed the last of the ducks, Losagio said.
Palansky said one duckling might still be "M.I.A."
Above ground, the rescue workers tended to the ducklings. "We did a check for injuries, but they were all covered by Aflac Insurance," Losagio quipped.
They plopped the bag on the grass and out the ducklings tumbled.
"They all lined up and followed their mother. It was like it was natural," Losagio said.