SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — 2019 was filled with heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. It was also filled with fur, feathers, and hooves.
Animals contributed to many of our stories this year, and we’re looking at some of the most memorable visits from our fuzzy friends.
A water rescue occurred in May this year, but little ducklings were actually at the heart of it.
A mother duck was crossing the Dow Rummel parking lot with her family, but three of her ducklings fell through a grate and into the drainpipe below.
So the Dow Rummel maintenance staff went after the wayward waddlers. And the ducklings were set free one by one, their little webbed feet cart-wheeling in delight over their reunion.
One story we covered was after mountain lion season had ended. The lowest number of mountain lions were taken in 10 years.
21 mountain lions were killed this past season.
The largest lion shot was a 5-year-old male weighing 161 pounds in Lawrence County. The smallest was a 9-month-old cat weighing 74 pounds.
The Great Plains Zoo issued a code one this year. Staff said a bear was not where it was supposed to be, which prompted the alert to visitors. But zoo officials say it’s something they train for.
“There was never a bear loose in the zoo, it never entered the public space, it never left its containment, we do, however, clear grounds at a time like this to make sure people are safe,” CEO of Great Plains Zoo, Elizabeth Whealy said.
Whealy says this is something staff members train for, to keep everyone safe. Making it a situation that ended well.
Another bear made headlines when it was spotted in northern South Dakota. Trent Ammann shared videos of the bear on his property in rural Wilmot on social media. He told KELOLAND News he has never seen bears in that area before.
He has seen wolves and mountain lions before but never a bear.
However, South Dakota is well known for pheasants. In fact, it’s called the Pheasant Capital of the World. In this story, one pheasant chick got separated from its family.
KELOLAND Chief Photographer Kevin Kjergaard spotted the birds at Lake Thompson. He says the momma pheasant and several other chicks had already crossed, but this poor fella was left behind.
It did reunite with its family.
This year we had fewer birds than last year, according to the Pheasant Brood Survey Report.
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks released the numbers saying pheasants were down about 17% statewide compared to last year.
In the report, Game, Fish & Parks said wet conditions and acres of unplanted crops may have had a negative impact on the survey.
And just a few months ago we had an unexpected visitor in Sioux Falls. A moose made an appearance while farmers were harvesting. KELOLAND News photojournalist Mike Simundson looked back on the harvest’s wild side.
If you have any animal stories you remember from KELOLAND News email email@example.com so we can include them in this story.