Someone You Should Know: The duck rescuer

Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Earlier this year, Abby Erickson noticed something in the parking lot of the eastside Target parking lot.

“Here was this little pod of ten ducklings. They were a day, maybe two days old. That may be pushing it. We did find the mother. She had been hit, so something happened, and obviously they were abandoned at that point,” said Abby.

Abby rescued those ducks, and then, Sioux Falls duck rescuer Mike Hillman took over. He raises them in containers outside of his house.

“Probably wouldn’t have lasted another day — it was pretty warm. No food, no water for them. I have 27 ducks, and right now, I’ve got ten new ones, so I’m up to 37. So eight years, I’ve been doing this. I started out by finding one in the street, did some research, made some contacts, found a rehabber and worked with them. Eight years later, I’ve got my federal permit and city permit,” said Mike.

Mike usually keeps each duck about a month, and they have as little human contact as possible.

“Try to keep them as wild as they can be. They grow quick. They grow very fast. The mallard from hatch to ready to fly a long distance is six weeks. Wood ducks are about seven,” said Mike.

When they’re ready to be on their own, Mike releases them at a pond near Galway Park in southern Sioux Falls.

“Just to see that they’ve made it, that they’ve gotten a second chance, and I’ve got them to that point, and now it’s up to Mother Nature. I have to do a federal report every year and list out everything that took place. If I have to estimate, I’d say 200 to 300 ducks have been released and saved,” said Mike.

“We need more people like Mike who have compassion and are willing to rescue this wildlife. If you look around this pond right now, you can see the results of his action,” said Abby.

“I’ve got some signs set up in the 57th and Sycamore area, just to bring awareness of ducks that are crossing the road,” said Mike.

He says it’s hard work, aside from a full-time day job, but it’s a labor of love.

“Each year, it gets to be more and more. I work with Animal Control, the Humane Society, Game, Fish, and Parks, the Outdoor Campus. A lot of individuals that find them will call one of those entities. They’ll put them right through to my number, and it goes from there,” said Mike.

“I am so thankful that he invites people like myself out, that have found these ducklings. To be able to be a part of that release — it’s a great experience,” said Abby.