A Wounded Milwaukee Mallard Gives the Humane Society a Chase by Land, Lake and Air

updated 05/13/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/13/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

For nine days she was Wisconsin's most-wanted duck. She was first spotted on the southern end of Milwaukee's Jackson Park when a caller reported to the Wisconsin Humane Society that a duck "with an arrow in it" was flying around the park's lagoon. The humane society dispatched a woman driver with a large fishnet, but the duck flew away.

Two days later, with more calls coming in, Bill Loeffler, manager of operations at the humane society, decided to investigate personally. He brought along John McDowell, a humane society officer, and a blowpipe with a tranquilizing dart—effective at up to 20 feet. Despite the two-foot-long arrow, of unknown origin, protruding from her tail, the bird eluded them. "This mallard did everything any other duck could do," says Loeffler in amazement. "It could swim, it was a strong flier, and it could walk—although it had a little trouble when the arrow bumped up against shrubbery or trees."

Loeffler and McDowell stalked their quarry again, using a more powerful tranquilizing gun, effective at up to 80 feet. No luck. One shot "just grazed her," says Loeffler. The duck flew off with the drake who accompanied her.

Finally, on the ninth day, Loeffler and McDowell spotted her at dawn by the lagoon. "We sneaked up to a tree 40 feet from the duck," says Loeffler. "She saw McDowell coming, but as she jumped into the water he hit her in the chest with a tranquilizing dart. We scooped her out of the water."

After hauling their quarry ashore, they removed the arrow, which had ripped though one inch of flesh in the duck tail and infected the area. Later, at the humane society, veterinarian Donald McWade cleaned and sutured the chest wound and administered antibiotics. Whether it was from shock or too much anesthesia, several hours later the mallard was a dead duck. But that duck had pluck.

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