May 16 2019

Winging It

Some people bystand. Other people jump in lakes with both feet when a duck needs help. Jeremy Barkley is one of those people.

On a brisk day in early April, Barkley — a Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps member serving at Five Rivers MetroParks — was birding at Eastwood MetroPark when he noticed a ring-necked duck tangled up in fishing line, flapping in panic in the lagoon. He didn’t actually jump in, he says. He waded. And because he didn’t have a knife on him, he cut the line away from the duck with his teeth.

The whole rescue took about 10 minutes, and it was a big deal for the duck but not an unusual deal for Barkley. “My whole life, I’ve just been around nature,” he says. “It’s something I love to be out in, and I truly care for it.”

Barkley says he developed his appreciation for nature early on, fishing and exploring the outdoors with his dad, who taught him to feel comfortable around wild animals.

Comfort and safety are key — so for the average person, being a bystander is actually a wise choice. If you see an animal in distress, Barkley says, tell a ranger. He also reminds anglers to remove any snagged fishing line from the water and dispose of it in the PVC tubes MetroParks provides at fishing spots, “so it doesn’t end up where it shouldn’t be.” But if it does, hopefully Barkley will be there to save another duck’s day.

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