Highland News Leader

Letter to the Editor: Think twice before buying ducklings this Easter

Dear Editor,

Yes, they are adorable… those cute little ducklings and goslings that are for sale every spring. But please think twice before buying if your plan is to raise them until they get too big and noisy and smelly and then turn them loose at the VFW pond or Silver Lake or somewhere similar.

These ducklings and goslings are domestic, not wild. They are born and bred to be raised in captivity — to be fed and sheltered. They are not meant to be turned loose to fend for themselves. Often, they do not fare well, and releasing them can have detrimental effects not only on them, but also on the waterways and on the native waterfowl.

Domestic waterfowl, which are sometimes bred for meat, typically have heavier bodies and cannot fly long distances like their wild cousins. Indeed, some cannot fly at all. This leaves them stuck wherever they are dropped off. Abandonment is a more accurate description. They are more susceptible to predation. If the area becomes overpopulated, the food supply diminishes, or the water freezes solid, they have nowhere else to go. They compete with native waterfowl for food, nesting areas and space. They can breed with native animals producing cross-breeds, which, while born wild, often cannot make the distance flights of the wild waterfowl. Domestic waterfowl can also carry diseases that can devastate native waterfowl populations.

I am not wholeheartedly against buying the cute little ducklings and goslings. I just want folks to realize they are a purchasing domestic animal, and they need to have a plan for the whole life of the animal. When you “set them free” at the park or local lake, you are dumping them, not releasing them.

As a wildlife rehabilitator I regularly get calls asking for my help rescuing domestic waterfowl that are living wild in the area. They rarely fare well.

Kelly Austin