Stuck duck rescued

Staff

Henry Miller was out driving along the waterfront here Friday when he noticed something unusual in the water across from Rainy Lake Sports and Tackle.
A merganser (a type of duck) was sitting close to shore surrounded by other birds but not moving.
Miller thought nothing of it, but realized something was wrong when he was driving around the next day and saw the bird still in the same spot.
He noticed other birds around it were diving down and flying away, but that one was just staying where it was.
He figured it was caught on something and it needed to be freed.
Miller said he had a canoe, but thought it would tip too easily if the bird decided to flap around.
He then tried calling around to contact someone with a boat so he could get to the bird, but no one was answering on Saturday morning.
Miller had gone home and was going to eat lunch when his friend, Henrietta Verhoef, called and convinced him that they needed to rescue the bird as soon as possible.
“She really got everyone going,” he noted.
Together, they got Ahlan Johanson and Monique Ibey to help load up Miller’s canoe and get it out on the water.
Miller said when they got to the bird, they realized it could move laterally about 20 feet, but it would not dive down or fly away.
The reason? It was tangled in some fishing line that also was caught on the shoreline.
They paddled around trying to get a hold of the merganser but could not because it kept moving away.
After a few minutes of trying to grab it, the bird stopped unexpectedly and just sat where it was.
“He just gave up, I guess,” Miller said.
They then were able to pull the canoe right up beside the bird, with Miller reaching out and grabbing it.
“I just picked him up with two hands and pulled him into the canoe,” he explained.
They saw the bird had the fishing line completely wrapped around both of its legs.
They then began the work of removing the line, which proved to be a tedious task.
“It took quite a while to untangle the line,” Miller recalled.
“Of course, I had my pocket knife on me so that helped.”
They eventually freed the bird and released it so it could fly away.
“He never even turned back to thank us,” Miller laughed.
Johanson, Verhoef, and Miller are part of the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists, a local club that promotes conservation and wise use of the natural environment in the area.