Mallards shot with blow darts at duck pond


On Wednesday morning, MSU police and Bozeman Animal Control were on somewhat of a duck chase. The sought-after fowl had been shot with a blowgun on or before Jan. 17 and has since been wandering around with the dart lodged in its head.

MSUPD first got word on Saturday, Jan. 17, when a caller reported seeing a male duck at the pond with a yellow dart protruding from its cheek near the neck. Police and animal control made two attempts last week to capture the injured bird. Animal control has attempted to be as gentle as possible so as not to further injure it or disturb the dart. However, both attempts using a pole with a hook on the end designed to capture the animal by the foot were unfruitful.

Wednesday, animal control returned to the duck pond with Sergeant James Sletten of MSUPD to try a new tactic using a throw net. The mallard, proving to be too agile for its own good, once again evaded capture.

According to Sletten, MSUPD has received numerous calls regarding the harmed bird. On Tuesday, a caller reported seeing a female duck with a similar dart protruding from its body. While police have “only been able to confirm the one” male duck, explained Sletten, “there’s likely one more.”

With the duck being difficult to capture, local animal control is consulting with county animal control to come up with a solution to catch the bird without further injuring it. If those attempts are unsuccessful, the job will move to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Sletten says the dart originated from a standard aluminum blow gun. The blow guns are easy to acquire and available at many sportswear and outfitting stores.

Police are actively seeking the individual responsible for harming the ducks. The perpetrator could face charges of aggravated animal cruelty and face up to $2,500 in fines and/or a prison sentence up to two years for each duck harmed.

MSU police have added extra patrol to the area and are keeping an eye out for any other injured ducks.

Anyone with information regarding the mistreatment are encouraged to contact the MSU police department immediately at 994-2121 or anonymously through the Silent Witness program at switness@montana.edu.