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5 October 2017
Waipa District Council is asking people to stop feeding the ducks in Te Awamutu's Memorial Park.
Council staff say the number of ducks living at the park has significantly increased over recent years. The massive increase in duck numbers had created concerns around pollution and public health and complaints had been lodged with the Council.
Parks and reserves team leader Max Ward said people had been feeding ducks at Memorial Park and other Waipa parks for years. While bread was known to be unhealthy for ducks, feeding them had seemed relatively harmless, he said.
But in Memorial Park some people had been spotted feeding the ducks specially purchased grain.
"We're not talking about the odd scrap of bread; this is much more than that. We've got people providing them a free meal every day and it's now got to the point where it's unsanitary," Ward said.
"The sheer number of ducks attracted by the food means they are polluting the water, fouling the walkways and making it difficult to establish gardens and lawns. And the food meant for the ducks is also providing a smorgasbord for rats and frankly rats are last thing we want to attract to any public park."
Ward said ducks were wild birds and quite capable of collecting their own food. Feeding them does them no favours, he said.
"It means the ducks are now becoming dependent on humans. And the ready supply of food is attracting more ducks to the park as well as mice and rats. They, in turn, are breeding and populations are getting out of control."
Councils have an obligation by law to maintain public places and keep them healthy, he said. So far, Memorial Park in Te Awamutu was the only one of Council's five urban parks with open water where the duck population had become an issue.
"We're not out to ruin anyone's fun or stop young kids from enjoying the wildlife. But feeding the ducks has tipped the balance in that particular park. We need to encourage ducks to find their own food and by doing so, they will naturally disperse and duck numbers will return to normal levels."
Ward said the Council had no plans to be heavy-handed and hoped asking people to stop feeding the birds would be enough. A letter alerting local residents to the issue had also been sent, he said.
"We'll be putting up some signs and keeping an eye on the park. But we're hopeful the public will do the right thing and it will all go back to normal."
For more information, contact: Nicole Nooyen 027 807 3478