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Family of ducklings rescued from storm drain in San Marcos

Lake San Marcos Wildlife and Waterfowl Rescue is an all-volunteer operation.

LAKE SAN MARCOS, Calif. — Neighbors in San Marcos heard panicked quacking.  A family of ducklings was trapped in a storm drain. In this Zevely Zone, I visited Lake San Marcos for the rescue story. This duck tale is another example of how people do not need a special title or training to become volunteers to make the world a better place.

Every morning as ducks snack on their lakeside lawn, Greg and Karen Thomas hop in their boat to patrol the lake. "You can't miss them. The ducks are always on our lawn and the swans are always on our lawn," said Karen. "Here we are running to a rescue," said Greg who was a fireman in the US Navy. "She is ready to lay eggs, you can tell she has eggs," said Karen while monitoring birds through binoculars.   

Credit: Lake San Marcos Wildlife and Waterfowl Rescue
Credit: Lake San Marcos Wildlife and Waterfowl Rescue

The wildlife may not know it, but they're being watched by a couple of love birds. "Ha, ha, ha, sure 35 years worth ha," laughed the happy couple from their boat. They met during Greg's military deployment to Australia. "I am looking for strange reactions you know just like the Blue Heron that was caught up in the fishing lines, you could tell something was wrong," said Greg. The couple rescued that heron, then a turtle, and then a swan.

Credit: Lake San Marcos Wildlife and Waterfowl Rescue

"Any sign of a hook? Probably on its chest," said volunteers during a recent rescue. The Lake San Marcos Wildlife and Waterfowl Rescue Team is a volunteer operation; even Dr. Young from Discovery Valley Animal Hospital performs the acts of kindness for free. "You alright?" asked volunteers after saving a swan. "Run like the wind," they said while releasing her. "Okay she looks good," said Karen.  

Credit: Lake San Marcos Wildlife and Waterfowl Rescue

Earlier this summer, Greg and Karen received a frantic call about a family of ducklings trapped in a storm drain. "The neighbors up there noticed that mama duck is pacing back and forth squawking along the storm drain and you could hear the ducklings down below," said Greg. He and Karen rushed to the scene with an animal carrier and a little bit of courage. They climbed down into the storm drain to make the rescue. "I had to reach in with this to get the last two. I was afraid I was going to crush them they were so wiped out," said Greg while showing me a tool he used to grab the ducklings.

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The goal was to return the ducklings to a nearby pond. "Come on mama. Take them over there," said Greg and Carol as they carried the ducklings in the animal carrier.  The rescue was caught on camera. Across a busy street, Karen carried the ducklings with a worried mama quacking instructions every step of the way. "She's leading the way now, between those two bushes is where she wants to go," said Greg.

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In total, seven ducklings were rescued and safely returned to their pond. "Everyone was just so enthralled that people cared so much to rescue these little fluff balls. They didn't weigh anything," said Karen. "This is why we do it. In the video you can see me jumping up and down saying this is so exciting they got back all in one piece."

The husband and wife say they can do this all day long or at least until the ducks come home.

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