Green Bay's "Duck Man"

Published: Apr. 27, 2018 at 3:24 PM CDT
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In the hustle and bustle of downtown Green Bay, and surrounding urban areas, one man spends countless hours each spring to make sure nature's newest members stay safe.

He's simply known as Green Bay's "Duck Man."

"She's right there where that hub is. I can see her head already," says Joe Loehlein as he makes his way along downtown Green Bay sidewalks.

It's a daily occurrence this time each spring.

"Allouez, De Pere, all over, once you get involved, your heart just goes into it when you see these little ducks," says Joe.

A mallard hen is nesting right next to the Associated Bank building in downtown Green Bay, and Joe has some work to do putting up a little fence around the nest.

"If we miss on the hatch date or know when she's going to hatch, the babies can't get out of this," says Joe.

It was 30 years ago the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary reached out to the Green Bay Duck Hunters Association in a call for help.

The sanctuary didn't have the staff to rescue mother ducks and their newborns from the perils of the city.

Today, city workers, police and businesses all have his number.

"We've rescued I believe over 15,000 mothers and babies already. The last five years it's been 1,000 a year, and it all happens in May and June," says Joe.

Joe keeps a detailed log of each nesting location, along with notes on when the nest was reported, how many eggs there are and when they're expected to hatch.

"What I'm looking for now is a little peck mark coming through, so I know that these are not going to hatch within 24 hours, I don't have to worry," says Joe, holding two eggs after the mother jumps off the nest.

While he knows a lot about ducks, Joe admits he isn't sure why a landscape dominated with concrete is such a popular nesting location.

"It's early in the morning and on weekends, nobody is around so they pick their spot and they go for it. I had one over here at Camera Corner a couple years ago up on the roof," recalls Joe.

As for this nest, Joe is almost certain this is the same mother in the same location from the past two years.

He expects her babies to hatch in a couple weeks.

"Once they start incubating it takes approximately 28 days, and they all hatch together within 5 to 10 hours, and then within another 12 hours she wants to leave that nest," says Joe.

That's where Joe comes in, to save them from the dangers of cars and sewer drains on their way to water.

Joe has invited us to be there when this rescue takes place and the ducks are transported to a safer location.

So stay tuned.

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