Too often domesticated ducks are "dumped" or abandoned at a public or private pond or in the wild. In many areas, this is illegal and certainly never ethical. Domesticated animals depend on humans in order to survive. They are not equipped to compete with wild waterfowl over territory, may have difficulty finding food especially in the winter, and can fall victim to wild or domestic predators such as loose dogs. Domestic and wild ducks are frequently injured when fishing line and gear are not properly discarded. Our rescue, Scrooge, has a slightly slower pace due to his torn webbing from a fishing line. He is one of the lucky ones. Many wild and domestic animals have to be humanely euthanized as their trauma is irreparable and significant.
Why is this an issue? Ducklings are common gifts in the spring especially around Easter time. Many do not realize how intensive their care can be. While domestic ducks can live to be 15 years or older, the average life span is five to 10 years. Ducks as pets require a safe outdoor space where they can forage for insects and graze along with a clean source of water for swimming and bathing. They need suitable housing to provide shelter during extreme weather and protection from potential predators. As social and intelligent beings, they are not meant to be alone and need to be placed with other ducks.
Responsible owners will invest in a quality diet. We use Mazuri Waterfowl Feed which is $44 for a 50 pound bag in addition to healthy supplements and enrichment treats. Having a veterinarian with waterfowl experience is essential. Domestic ducks can be susceptible to bumblefoot, parasites, improper feather growth, upper respiratory infections, and predation especially if not provided proper care and shelter. These feathered fowl are a serious commitment and not an impulse buy or an Easter gift. And as cute as ducklings are, there are numerous, mature domestic ducks needing a permanent, loving home.
Abandoning domesticated waterfowl also negatively impacts our wildlife. Domestic ducks will breed with wild species resulting in hybrids. People concerned for the abandoned domestic ducks at their local pond will sometimes provide a constant food source. Of course, the wild ducks partake in this free buffet as well. This is extremely problematic as it results in the wild ducks staying in the area instead of migrating, overcrowding, and pollution of the water and area due to the abundance of fecal matter.
Overpopulation of waterfowl at a particular public pond can be an issue for any humans who reside or work in the area. This can result in "culling" of or killing off the domestic and wild ducks and waterfowl by the state wildlife agency or USDA. When humans provide an unnatural diet they discourage wildlife from being wild, make them dependent on humans, and subject them to a diet lacking in nutrition. The wrong diet can cause feather damage, metabolic bone disease, and permanent soft tissue defects.
Not just ducks...Domestic geese and swans are abandoned, too. Meet Duck Duck, our Chinese goose, that was abandoned near or at the local Walmart in Johnson City, Tennessee. Thankfully someone discovered him in the parking lot and reached out for help.