Duck dumping season seems to have gotten off to an early start in San Diego this year. Frequently, ducks, ducklings, goslings, and geese are dumped off at city parks and lakes throughout the country soon after the Easter holiday when they’re usually bought as gifts. For some people, “living Easter baskets” are a tradition even though most people buying the animals for them live in urban areas where keeping waterfowl is not allowed.
At a local San Diego reservoir, two small Pekin ducklings were recently dropped off in the past week to fend for their own. Not only were they too small to defend themselves from predators or even other ducks, they still required heat lamps for the night time temperatures and they were still covered with down and not waterproof. Originally, they were thought to be goslings because they were hanging around where the geese were. Many people didn't realize that these were ducklings in trouble, so they went without help until it was too late. When the cold, wet storm hit the county on Tuesday, the ducklings couldn't keep warm, resulting in the death of one. The other one stayed at its side until he was taken in and warmed up. Currently, the duckling is in a foster home with another duckling until it can find a permanent home.
Usually, duck dumping peaks about a few months after Easter. Often, these animals are imprinted or human-oriented and will wait near where they were dropped off for their owners to return. Sometimes, they will follow other people around, quacking in distress. Many of these birds don’t realize that they’re ducks, so they never mix in with the other ducks in the area. People pass by these ducks or ducklings not knowing that they are in serious trouble and will most likely die if not helped.
Abandoning pets and farm animals is illegal and considered animal cruelty. Domestic ducks are specifically bred to be on farms and around people. Not only can most of them not fly well, they are often accustomed to dogs and cats and not aware that hawks can hurt them. So, they are likely to approach or not be afraid of animals that could be potentially harmful.
If you see any fuzzy yellow ducklings, alone, staying in one place, or running after people, please contact park or lake staff or animal control. Ducklings are almost never without their mother who will keep an eye on them, be vocalizing to them or resting close by. Ducklings that are dumped will usually isolate themselves away from the adult ducks. The San Diego Humane Society accepts ducks, chickens and other fowl and will put them up for adoption. Call 619-299-7012 for more information about animal adoption.