The City of Saint John is asking visitors to Rockwood Park to give up a beloved pastime – for the good of the ducks.
Signs are up at popular spots for feeding the waterfowl, and a website with information about the harm caused to the ducks has been launched. For the good of the ducks, it’s a necessary sacrifice.
“The ducks in the park are suffering from overcrowding and from malnutrition,” explained Ray Walsh, manager of Rockwood Park. “Because they stay the winter, they become aggressive with humans, expecting food. Ducks have frozen into the pond in previous years, and have been hit by cars because they seek warmth on the sun-warmed asphalt road.”
Cutting off their source of food in September will mimic the natural reduction in food that occurs in the fall. The ducks will look further for food, and eventually migrate. The black ducks will head to the coast to eat snails and other food they find in the sand. The other ducks will migrate further south, where there will be a more constant source of food.
The duck pond could naturally support two or three pairs of ducks, not the over 40 that currently call it home. The overcrowding means the ducks spread disease among themselves, and cause swimmer’s itch to infect the recreational waters of the park. As well, the duck pond and Fisher Lakes have high phosphate counts due to the ducks’ feces.
In the winter, spring and summer, feeding the ducks proper food (cut grapes, grains such as cracked corn, barley, and birdseed, or the duck feed available at farm supply stores) would be a much better choice. While the ducks enjoy the bread, it would be the equivalent of eating nothing but cupcakes for people. It is important to cut off the ducks’ food source from September to December to give them a chance to migrate.
For more information about why the ducks should not be fed, visit saintjohn.ca/ducks.