Duck feeding ban is just 'quackers'

IT'S a ruling that some may think is “quackers” - but people in a Suffolk town have been told not to feed the ducks.Stowmarket Town Council's call for a ban - saying dropping bread for the ducks causes a “serious health and safety hazard” - has divided the community.

John Howard

IT'S a request that some may think is “quackers” - but people in a Suffolk town have been told not to feed the ducks.

Stowmarket Town Council's call for a ban - saying dropping bread for the ducks causes a “serious health and safety hazard” - has divided the community.

For years young families have enjoyed feeding the aquatic birds and they are a popular sight around the Museum of East Anglian Life and the town centre.

But now there are warnings that bread is not the right food for wild ducks - and moves are afoot to reduce their number.

Chrissie Day, environmental town warden with Stowmarket Town Council, said the

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duck population was getting out of control.

She said: “Well meaning people are feeding them on bread, scraps and bird food.

“This not only attracts more ducks into the town, it also leads them to breed more and this means that there are now more ducks than the ponds and river can cope with.

“The level of duck waste in the ponds makes the water more and more dirty and has a detrimental effect on other pond life.”

She added: “The mess caused by the ducks and any uneaten food causes a serious health and safety hazard, particularly as it boosts the rat population.

“Bread is not the natural food for wild ducks and is not good for their health. Essentially they should live off the food that is naturally present in a pond or river and Mother Nature will then play her part in limiting the number of ducks to the natural ecosystem.

“If we stop feeding them, the numbers will naturally drop as many move away to forage for food elsewhere. This will not only lead to the town becoming cleaner, it will also be healthier for the ducks.

“Our poor old feathered friends also regularly waddle into the town looking to be fed, only to be run over when trying to cross our busy roads.”

Debbie Kendon, whose three children love feeding the birds at neighbouring Needham Lake, said she was inclined to agree. She said feeding the ducks at lakes and ponds was good, but not near food outlets.

But Sarah Howick, a mother of four from Rattlesden Close, Stowmarket, said her three-year-old son Aiden loves feeding them.

She said: “People are complaining for no reason, everybody I know feeds the ducks, its part of going shopping in the town centre. If you take the kids you tell them if they are good they can feed the ducks.

“They love it, the ducks are part of the town, and people have been feeding them for a very long time.”

Chris Durdin, a spokesman for the RSPB, said: “Parish and town councils are struggling with the problem of too many ducks in East Anglia, which can cause health and safety issues.

“Any pond with a large population of ducks that is higher than it would naturally hold will tend to reduce the pond's value for other wildlife, vegetation will be damaged, and it will be over fertilized, with the water's quality deteriorating.

“But it is terribly difficult and there is no easy solution here. Who has not been out with their small children to feed the ducks? And bread is not unhealthy, it is loosely based on grain, and that is ok for them. Bread is a pretty good source of food for them.”

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