Domestic ducks a problem at pond

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Sealy has a fowl problem at the B&PW Park pond.

A few years ago some white Pekin farm ducks somehow managed to take up residence in the pond. No one seems to know how they got there, but since then they have been joined by other wild ducks. A local woman who has been feeding the ducks said she can’t afford to do it any longer and wants the city to take charge of their care.

“Obviously they are surviving because I have been feeding them for months now,” said “Jane,” who asked that her real name not be used out of privacy concerns. “At the very minimum the city should feed them again.”

Jane said she has been visiting the park since 2013 and has been watching the small flock.

“Initially there were four white Pekin ducks. I knew they were domestic farm ducks. During that time I would occasionally see city workers come to feed them,” she said.

She said they were later joined by a white Muscovy duck, but it and two of the Pekins disappeared after they became injured when they were entangled in fishing line and other plastic debris.

“As time went on a few mallard ducks became a part of the group. Mallards are normally wild ducks. These six have been with the remaining two Pekins for possibly two years now. Maybe six months ago a new Pekin duck came along,” Jane said.

She has brought her concerns to Mayor Janice Whitehead and Whitehead had a brief discussion about it at a city council meeting, but as of Monday no action has been taken. Based on Whitehead’s research, it’s unlikely any action will be taken.

“We have been examining all possibilities,” Whitehead said.

After consulting with Parks Director Lawrence Siska, the city’s parks board, and talking with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Whitehead said the choices of what to do with the ducks came down to three options: Relocate the ducks, adopt the ducks and provide care for them, or leave the ducks alone. She said the advice she received across the board was to leave them alone.

She said if the city were to care for them, they would have to provide food, shelter, and would also be liable from an insurance standpoint should the ducks harm someone.

“That would be an additional cost to the taxpayers,” she said.

Whitehead said the advice she received from TPWD is to not only leave them alone as wild animals, but to prohibit people from feeding them because it makes them dependent on humans for food and weakens their ability to fend for themselves.

Jane said the ducks are already dependent on humans.

“The ranger stated it is best not to feed the ducks. Of course, that is the correct answer for wild ducks. It is best to not ever feed wild animals,” she said. “However, especially in winter, there is no food at the pond. Not to mention very little shelter with the grass kept short. These ducks are literally prisoners without help from people.”

She added that the ducks do not fly.

“Being raised by people they do not act like a wild duck would. Therefore, they are stuck at the pond 24/7. That means they are dependent on people for food,” she said.

Another issue arose last summer during the fireworks display for Sealybration. The ducks panicked and got tangled in a barbwire fence. Whitehead suggested that they could be temporarily relocated during festivals when fireworks are going off.

Whitehead said the subject was to be discussed by the city council at the Jan. 7 meeting. She said she hopes a viable option can be reached that is beneficial to both the city and the ducks.

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