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Ducklings at risk on campus

Katelin Kaiser, a senior majoring in philosophy, said she was walking on campus Sept. 7 when she saw a duckling drop through the opening of a sewer grate near Cooper Hall. She rushed to the opening, she said, and looked down at the duckling six feet below.

“Standing above the grate, I said, ‘I’m going to save you,’ Kaiser said. “I wasn’t going to leave the baby duck to die.”

Kaiser said she called Physical Plant and was told a worker would come out and take a look. After more than two and a half hours, she said, a Physical Plant worker arrived and told Kaiser, as well as other students, similar incidents happen all the time and there isn’t much they can do about it.

She said the worker was unable to retrieve the ducklilng and she remains uncertain if it survived.

“I became a vegetarian freshman year,” Kaiser she said. “(Vegetarianism) changed the way I think about animals. (The ducks) are here and they are not leaving anytime soon.”

Kaiser, a member of Students Protecting the Environment and Animals through Knowledge (SPEAK), said since the incident the organization has been pressing Physical Plant to find a solution.

SPEAK members including Lindsey Smith, a senior majoring in mass communications, put in about 10 work requests through Physical Plant’s website to cover sewer grates to prevent other ducklings from falling through them.

Kaiser said students were notified that these work requests had been completed, but nothing had actually been done.

Smith created the Facebook page “Save the USF Baby Ducks” after Kaiser told her about her experience with the duckling falling through a sewer grate.

Since its creation, the page has gained 908 likes as of Tuesday night.

Smith said she and four SPEAK members met with Physical Plant on Sept. 19 to discuss different solutions that students had come up with, including installing fencing around the grates that are closest to the ducks’ popular spots or covering the holes with a mesh lining so larger animals cannot fall through.

Nainan Desai, the assistant director of Physical Plant, said in an email to The Oracle that they have been considering some of the suggestions made during the meeting.

“Physical Plant has recently been approached by the student group SPEAK and has met with them to discuss their concerns,” he said. “During the meeting, it was explained that members of Physical Plant have responded to rescue the ducklings any time there has been an issue. There are several alternatives that could address the problem and those options are currently being reviewed.”

Smith said no timeline has been set for when a decision will be made or if Physical Plant will follow through with one of the proposed solutions.

“Physical Plant said (they) need to put it through administration and didn’t give us a timeline, which stinks,” she said. “I really hope they do it.”

Nonetheless, Kaiser said she hopes a solution can be reached.

“People may think it’s an abstract concept, but there is stuff that needs to be done,” she said. “You should respect (the ducks) as much as your pet.”