(NEW YORK) — The race is on to find a rare duck who was spotted in Central Park with a piece of plastic stuck between its beak.
Veteran bird watcher Brad Kane took a picture of the female Common Merganser, which is not common to the park, swimming in the park’s lake and posted it on Twitter Saturday. Kane noticed what appeared to be either a rubber band or a piece of plastic that was stuck between its beak and neck.
Kane told ABC News this is extremely dangerous for the bird because the plastic prevents it from eating and diving for food.
“It’s almost like a bridle and preventing it from closing its mouth. It’s a fish-eating bird so if it can’t dive it can’t eat,” he said. “It’s awful. It means it’s going through a long and painful suffering.”
After Kane’s photo went viral, park rangers searched the pond Monday and Tuesday for the duck, but as of Tuesday evening they had found no sign of it.
In the duck’s current condition it’s still able to fly and swim, according to Megan Moriarty, a spokeswoman for the New York City Parks Department.
“The goal is to rescue the bird, remove the plastic, and transport the animal to the Wild Bird Fund so they can assess its overall health,” she said in a statement.
The Parks Department is urging anyone who spots the bird to call park rangers at 212-360-2774.
This weekend, New York state will institute a ban on plastic bags at all grocery stores in an attempt to curb the amount of plastic in the environment. Kane said the ban is beneficial for the city’s wildlife and would prevent incidents like this.
“No one likes to see nature suffer, and that is indeed what’s happening to this bird,” he said. “It brings home the message of how dangerous plastic is to wildlife.”
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