Cruelty can come in so many forms. So often our heavy handed attempts to help are too broad. This month we had a call about another set of abandoned Pekin ducks. These domestic ducks have been released at a nearby pond, maybe thinking that this was a good habitat for them.
Unfortunately this is mistaken. While many ducks and other water fowl find this to be a wonderful area to thrive, Pekin ducks are domestic and do not dive, meaning any deeper source of food is unattainable for them. In addition they have been bred for human consumption and not survival so many winter foraging and survival skills are not available to them.
Through our network we were able to locate a partner non-profit that could offer them a better life. We sent volunteers hopeful for a wonderful marriage of wildlife and habitat.
These ducks had clearly been domesticated, coming happily to our food source, yet they were cautious and wary of us. With rice and watermelon we were able to get them close, the female being more friendly and we were able to grab her. Unfortunately this quite concerned the male, spooking him and he was not able to be captured. He swam to the center of the pond and could not be convinced to return to shore.
With our limited resources and noting the ducks to be healthy, capable of flight and not suffering any ill affects as yet to the incompatible environment, we chose to release the female who was quite distressed to be separated from her partner.
Though a new location may offer better food and safety, the absence of an obviously attached mate is much more traumatic in our eyes.
We continue to monitor their health and situation. Should they begin to deteriorate, we will attempt to intervene and get them somewhere much more suitable, but for now we find them better off facing these challenges together along with the heron and mallards that favor the area.
We thank the original person who contacted us for use of the above photo.