IRVING PARK — Much to the dismay of the team of neighbors searching for him, the North Branch duck with its head stuck in a plastic six-pack holder hasn’t been seen in almost a week.
But the duck — now affectionately named “Ringo” by the rescuers — has inspired a cleanup on the Chicago River to prevent other wildlife from being hurt by wayward garbage.
Northwest Side neighbors will host a cleanup day on the Chicago River’s North Branch from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 30 at Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave.
“The areas near and under the Montrose bridge have become a hazard for our wildlife,” a Facebook post for the event reads.
The curve of the waterflow around the North Shore Channel and North Branch creates natural eddies that collect litter under bridges, seawall areas and small bends, said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River.
Last fall, Friends of the Chicago River began collecting data about the locations, movement and type of litter that pollutes the waterway. Wrappers, plastic bags, disposable packaging and bottles were the most common types of trash found.
“This litter is devastating to wildlife and a deterrent to people — and as development continues it will only increase,” she said. “We all need to do a better job at working to keep trash out of the river.”
Ringo hasn’t been seen since last Tuesday, when neighbors, and even someone from suburban Berwyn, used boats and nets from the shore to try and catch the duck, Tess Smith-Meseth, a neighbor who has co-organized the rescue effort, told Block Club Monday. A Chicago Fire Department crew and animal experts from the nonprofit Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation helped with the Tuesday effort, too.
But the duck still eluded capture and he hasn’t been spotted by concerned neighbors since then.
Smith-Meseth and other neighbors have continued to stop by the riverbank near Horner Park, where the duck and its mate appear to be nesting, keeping watch for the injured mallard’s return.
In the meantime, neighbors wanted to name the duck, Smith-Meseth said.
“Ringo stuck because of the rings. And who doesn’t like the Beatles?” Tess Smith-Meseth said. The duck’s story has spread far and wide on social media, she said — the woman who came up with duck’s new name actually lives in Canada.
Ahead of the March 30 cleanup, neighbors are collecting drawings of Ringo the mallard from children to help raise awareness of the impact trash can have on animals, Smith-Meseth said. People can send their drawings to Smith-Meseth at email@example.com.
“We’re asking children from all of the city, state, country and world to email us their drawings of Ringo,” Smith-Meseth said.
And thanks to a $70,000 grant from the Mars Wrigley Foundation, Friends of the Chicago River is expanding its efforts to remove trash along the river by adding a seven-mile stretch of the North Branch to the group’s ongoing cleanup efforts.
Anyone hoping to volunteer with the ongoing rescue effort or who has seen Ringo can contact Smith-Meseth via her business at 773-558-3488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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