MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A St. Louis Park family has a very unusual contraption floating in their swimming pool. They engineered a one of a kind float in an effort to preserve wildlife — particularly, to save Millie the mallard’s unhatched babies.

Raccoons, as a species, scaled to new heights in Minnesota just days ago. A raccoon fascinated millions by climbing a skyscraper in St. Paul and becoming a viral sensation.

But when those masked creatures end up in your backyard, it’s a little less intriguing. Rick Rice knows that firsthand.

“It’s such a bummer to have the eggs destroyed by raccoons because you are so looking forward to the ducklings,” Rice said.

It’s been 10 years since nature buff Rick Rice has had a successful hatch in his St. Louis Park yard.

“Last year the eggs were destroyed by raccoons, the eggs this year were also destroyed by raccoons,” he said.

He and his wife Nancy did some research and came up with a plan.

“According to our research, raccoons don’t like water over their head so as long as it stays there, she has had no problems what so ever,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

It may sound easy, but it took some engineering. They created a nest for Millie the mallard using a pool float, a planter, some chicken wire, overhead protection.

“You can see the pool float is tethered right in the middle of the pool so the raccoons can’t get to it,” Rice said.

The swimming pool is still usable for others; Rice and his guests swim and play around Millie, who he said gets along swimmingly. He said she enjoys daily swims, feasts and rests — making her one lucky duck.

Millie’s ducklings are due to hatch within the next few days. Rice promised WCCO he’ll send a photo.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield