Good Intentions Gone Bad
Today’s Palm Beach Post (06/18/06) has an article about our forever-controversial Muscovy duck population ("Neighbors Cry Fowl Play in Duck War," by Kelly Wolfe).
The short version: some people love them, some people hate them, and rarely do you encounter a neutral person.
People who love them tend to want to feed and shelter them, and people who hate them tend to want to kill, or at least relocate them.
Because I once was that person who fed them (not bread, but what they actually eat), and allowed a couple to nest on my patio (where I researched how to correctly addle eggs so as to not be responsible for a gazillion new ducks), I consider myself an expert.
Perhaps surprisingly, I do not side with the gentleman who feeds the ducks, and here’s why: You put the ducks in danger when you feed them because that angers people, and when they get angry they get cruel.
If you’re dealing with people who don’t like the ducks to begin with, because the people have deemed the ducks "ugly," the ducks are already in danger and need to be as far away from people as possible.
Furthermore, because Muscovies are so friendly, they are likely to approach people who don’t like them with the same enthusiasm as they exhibit when they approach people who like them. (The photos below were not taken with a zoom lens; the ducks really were that close.) And that puts them in danger, as well.
Finally, I’ve never seen a starving Muscovy duck (that wasn’t molting). There is a ton of food for them.
I found that it was my desire to be close to these sweet creatures that led to the feeding (although I stopped and never had a neighborhood war as discussed in the article). I think it’s that human instinct to use food to lure someone into a relationship. We want them to like us, so we offer them food.
But there are bigger issues than our fragile egos. I hate to say it, but they don’t need us. In fact, they’re better off without us.