Onalaska lads get novel home-schooling lesson — in rescuing ducklings

Duck Boys
Alex (left) and Ben Hauser display the rescued ducklings. If you're wondering why Alex is wearing a Kansas City Chiefs cap, it's because he's an avid Patrick Mahomes fan. He was over the moon when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. (Jon Hauser photo)

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — Alex and Ben Hauser of Onalaska were trying to shoot a mama duck and her brood — in a video, of course, not with a gun — when a couple of the ducklings tried a direct route instead of a roundabout to cross a sewer grate.

Unfortunately, the grate spaces were too big for safe passage, and the little ducks plunged into the abyss. Fortunately, there was a little water down the hatch, so they had a modified soft landing.

The mishap occurred Thursday morning when 12-year-old Alex and 10-year-old Ben were walking their dog, Piper,  when they saw Mom and her ducklings — perhaps taking a recess break during the COVID-19 school shutdown.

“They called me,” the boys’ dad, Jon, said in an interview. “They were so excited.”

“When they were back home for lunch, they showed me the video,” Jon said.

Dad and the boys returned to the scene near Onalaska High School, “and you could hear cheeping,” said Jon, who is working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had a pry bar, but I don’t know if it’s even legal” to move a grate, Jon said.

A group of Onalaska Parks and Recreation workers were taking a break in Rowe Park, and one volunteered to try a rescue, he said.

Descending into the abyss, he was able to rescue one duckling right away with a fishing net, Jon said, but the other one streaked into another pipe. Finally, he was able to coax the critter with a trout net.

The workers gave the Hausers a bucket to carry the ducks home, where they transferred them to another bucket and headed back to the park to find the mom, Jon said.

“What were we gonna do with ducks,” he said, adding, “I don’t even know if it’s legal to have ducks.”

They couldn’t find the mother, but noticed another duckling that apparently had struck out on his own.

“It was the weirdest thing — he was just walking along” and scooted into a lilac bush, Jon said.

So the Hausers released the others there, making two in hand equal three in the bush.

Jon speculated that the boys might be able to chalk up the adventure to a nature class.

“I told them they can’t push, but they were advancing on the ducks,” he said, adding the boys did so out of excitement rather than mischief.

Chances are, the mother duck probably tracked her truants down, a fitting reward to the Hausers’ persistence in rescuing them.

“It was something to feel good about, especially the way things are,” Jon said.

News 8 Now/News 8000 Facebook post includes videos of the adventure: