A couple of months ago, a fellow millpond duck watcher told me he overheard a conversation by two adult males who were planning to capture millpond ducks for their dinner table. They were deciding which ones were plump enough to serve to their families. This past week, a woman was spotted attempting to lure ducks within reach. By the time I got to the pond to have a chat with her, she was gone. So was the third duckling in Mrs PomPom’s trio of month-olds (2014 Brood 26 shown in these pictures taken October 1).
The remaining yellow duckling was swimming erratically. It was uncharacteristically away from its mother and dark sibling (below, lower right corner) as if it was injured or had been traumatized.
I find it astonishing we have cretins in our midst who think the ducks in our community pond are theirs for the taking. These selfish bastards can purchase ducklings for a few bucks from their choice of online hatcheries or buy ducks for the platter at various specialty markets. Instead, they feel they have the right to rip apart duck families in an environment that’s already hostile to its residents.
They think millpond ducks are props in the park for their personal amusement. They don’t realize each duck is an integral part of families and sub-flocks, and have established relationships with their peers as well as hundreds, if not thousands, of people who consider them their feathered neighbors. At least once a month, someone asks me if I’ve seen Afroduck. Some have relocated to other states and come back to visit their extended families and want to check in with their millpond “friends.” Afroduck died in July, 2011 but the continuing interest in him shows the impact specific millpond birds can have on park visitors. That impact is trivialized by people who can’t think beyond their own wants who think they are “just ducks,” expendable creatures that will be replaced by others soon enough.
Mrs PomPom has now lost six of her original eight ducklings, the first brood she has successfully hatched in the three years she has nested in about five attempts.
If you see anyone capturing, harassing, or injuring domestic ducks on the pond, call the police. They will issue a hefty fine. If you see anyone doing the same with any migratory bird including the ducks (mostly Mallards), geese, or swans, contact the local DNR at Island Lake. These birds are fully protected by Federal laws with fines and jail terms that will make the perpetrators’ head spin. I’d love to see that happen.