The mallard with a dart in his neck who has been spotted at Fort Borst Park for at least a month is still alive.
He even seems to be thriving ó or at least surviving without too much visible trouble.
"It's already healed over and the duck seems not to notice it," frequent park visitor George Long said Wednesday of the dart wound. "It must be in the back of his neck. He eats good."
Long sees the duck regularly as he tosses bread to the park's birds. Sometimes the injured mallard will be just a few feet away, gobbling up whatever Long and other parkgoers toss to him.
The dart, about as wide around as a person's pinky, is still protruding from both sides of the green-headed bird's neck. The skin and feathers around the dart are discolored and appear infected, Long said.
"It's gray where it's killed the skin on the back of its neck," he reported.
The duck has been frequenting the lake at Fort Borst Park at least since early June.
Donna Mendoza, another frequent park visitor, said it has been there much longer. She remembers talking with people about the injured duck during the Lions Club fishing derby on April 24.
"It wasn't bleeding at that point," she said, so the wound couldn't have been fresh even at that time.
Meanwhile, the Centralia Parks and Recreation Department has tried to catch the duck several times without success.
"We've got a smelt net we've tried on it," said parks department mechanic Jeff LeDuc. "We tried to lure it in with bread and that kind of stuff. As soon as you make a move for it, it flies away."
This isn't the first time birds at the park have been hit with darts.
Several years ago the park had a problem with someone shooting seagulls.
Parks workers were able to catch the gulls and remove the darts, but the birds died nevertheless, LeDuc said.
"This is the first one we haven't been able to catch," he said.
And so, the Fort Borst Darted Duck is still at large, flying and eating with the rest of his unscarred flock.
Copyright (c) 2010, The Chronicle, Centralia, Wash.
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