HIGHLAND, Utah — Amy Needham, President of Puddle Duck Rescue, guesses she’s rescued more than 100 ducks.
“Most folks don’t know what’s happening,” she said. “There’s these animals that are at the whim of people, and they’re being put on ponds to essentially suffer and die already. And then our taxpayer dollars are being used to round them up and kill them.”
Highland Glen Park is one place people have been dumping ducks, and Highland City has been euthanizing them out of concern for public health, said Erin Wells, Public Information Officer.
“The higher the duck population, the more duck feces get left in our ponds,” she said. “And depending on the year, if we’re having a bad year for water, not enough water is getting into the pond to filter out all those feces, and it can lead to E. coli problems for us in this pond.”
The ducks people are buying at farm supply stores can’t survive in the wild; they don’t have the right instincts, Wells said. Releasing a duck into your local pond is actually illegal too.
“They adopt ducks from animal stores thinking it’s going to be fun, something maybe for easter springtime,” she said. “But then the ducks grow up and they don’t realize what it’s like to care for an adult duck or how long a duck lives.”
Experts can tell which ducks are wild and which ones are not; large ducks, especially white ones, aren’t native to this environment. The domesticated ducks also don’t leave during the winter.
“Domestic breeds are much larger than wild duck,” said Needham. “So if the duck is much, much larger than a mallard and doesn’t look like a mallard, good, chances are it’s a pet that didn’t take a cab to the pond. They were put there.”
Puddle Duck Rescue, and other duck rescues like Wasatch Wanderers, have been fighting for cities to stop killing ducks.
“I think most people are empathetic and care when they see suffering,” said Needham. “It’s just, people don’t know that this is an issue that’s happening.”
As of Thursday, Highland City is now taking culling off the table this year and is working with Puddle Duck Rescue and Wasatch Wanderers to find forever homes for these ducks. A local Boy Scout will also be making signs to put up at Highland Glen, educating people about the issue and telling people to stop dumping ducks. Highland City never wanted to have to kill ducks in the first place, said Wells.
“We’re absolutely on the same page,” she said. “We have no interest in doing a culling program. We don’t want to kill the ducks. And it also cost the city money to take care of that.”