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Man Releases Domestic Ducks into the Wild!

- Jean - Sunday, November 4th, 2012 : goo

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Yesterday, we witnessed a man releasing over 12 domestic ducks into the waters of the Milne Dam Conservation Park, in Markham, Ontario.

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We are very concerned for the ducks that he released yesterday. Winter is coming to our area, that park has predators in it, and presently, hundreds of migrating wild birds are using the lake as a stopover.

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According to Duck Rescue Network, many people do not understand the difference between wild ducks and domestic ducks. Domestic ducks lack the instinct to migrate and therefore face terrible suffering in cold winter climates.

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These are some of the wild ducks that make Milne Dam Conservation Park their home. Duck Rescue Network says that domestic ducks can interbreed with wild ducks such as these Mallard ducks, with the end result being a half-wild/half-domestic hybrid which is often too fat to fly and too domestic to migrate with the rest of the flock.

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Hundreds of Canada geese are using Milne Dam Conservation Park as a stopover during migration. The domestic ducks that this man released are contaminating an otherwise pristine natural habitat by their sheer presence. They are not meant to be there.

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Hopefully others will not follow this man's example. We have notified the Markham Park Authority, and they are taking action to deal with the ducks he released.

You can see our footage of this on YouTube at:

This article has been viewed 23506 times in the last 3 years

anon ( 6th Nov 2012 - 17:21 GMT

We received this email, yesterday, Nov. 5th, from the City of Markham:

Good Afternoon Bob and Jean,

I wanted to thank-you for your email and video you sent. We have been working on it all morning and I can report that we have located the ducks and that they appear to be all together near where they were released. Staff from the OSPCA are on site and have baited the area with feed to keep them there and will attempt to capture them. It may take some time to gather them. In the meantime, we are also working on a plan for them once they are caught. I will update you once the ducks are captured.

Supervisor Licensing and Animal Services, City of Markham

anon ( 6th Nov 2012 - 17:28 GMT

City of Markham

Hi Christopher,

Thanks for getting back to me and for taking quick action regarding the abandoned ducks at Milne Dam. It is good to hear that the staff from OSPCA are onsite and looking to capture these ducks. It is apt to be a difficult undertaking, but just the same, given all the Mallard ducks that are on the water there, it is good that you are looking to remove these domestic ducks as soon as possible.

I also hope that, with the aid of our very clear pictures, you will be able to figure out who the person was that abandoned these ducks. This person, and others like him, need to be informed of the risks created for the local wildlife when they abandon sick animals in the wild. I am hopeful that others in your community will likewise make a point of reaching out and explaining to people that this is not the way to deal with unwanted pets or animals. I know that the OSPCA would totally agree with that thinking.

I think it would be advisable to put up signs informing the public against releasing animals on park property. We were told by a local resident that on another recent occasion someone abandoned 30 pigeons at Milne Dam, and that all of those birds were found dead on the beach. Perhaps signage would prevent such things from happening again.

We will be anxious to hear back from you.

Bob and Jean Hilscher

anon ( 6th Nov 2012 - 17:30 GMT

Nov. 6th, 2012

Morning Bob and Jean,

I agree 100 percent with your thought and will speak to Parks about signage. In the meantime, we will continue to try and apprehend the ducks.

Supervisor Licensing and Animal Services, City of Markham, Ontario, Canada

anon ( 15th Nov 2012 - 14:09 GMT

Nov. 14th, 2012

Good Afternoon Bob,

Quick Update

With the help of the OSPCA and a local resident, we were able to capture 6 of the ducks. They will have their wings clipped and be re-located to a horse farm with a pond in the Tottenham area. We are continuing to work at capturing the reminder. Thanks again for your help.

Supervisor Licensing and Animal Services, City of Markham, Ontario, Canada

Jean: 6th Dec 2012 - 15:56 GMT

The day after the man released the ducks, we took the following pictures of his yellow bags, and the ducks he released.

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When we observed this duck on the shore, we saw that its wing was broken, and another duck had an injured foot.

anon ( 7th Dec 2012 - 14:21 GMT

On Thursday December 6, 2012, the Toronto Star, wrote the following News article:

Niamh Scallan
Staff Reporter

From where she stood on the far side of the ravine, bird watcher Jean Hilscher had a clear view through her long-lens camera of the man with the yellow plastic bags.

It was a crisp Saturday morning in early November and Hilscher and her husband, Bob, had come to Markham’s Milne Dam Conservation Park, a popular stopover for migratory birds, to spot those on their way south for the winter. But on this day, the avid birdwatchers from Scarborough were distracted.

From their side of the river, they watched as the unidentified man carried the bags down the ravine and unloaded about a dozen ducks near the water’s edge, pausing for a moment before returning to his car.

“I was yelling as loud as I could,” said Bob Hilscher, who caught the event on his video camera and later posted a clip to YouTube. “I was just demanding an answer, ‘What are you doing dumping ducks out of a bag?’ ”

It’s a question that has flummoxed nearby Markham residents who, for more than a year now, have wondered where the ever-expanding flock of often-hungry and clearly out-of-place domestic ducks — a mixture of Muscovy, mallard and others — came from.

Shelley Bourne, a member of the Milne Park Conservation Association whose property backs onto the park, said about 15 ducks were spotted in the area last year, but no one knew they were domestic and she believes many died of exposure and starvation.

This year, the flock (which Bourne said has swelled to more than 40) has relied on a steady supply of corn that Bourne sprinkles over her lawn each day. But with the ducks wandering outside without shelter and frigid winter temperatures fast approaching, Bourne and animal-care officials are scrambling to find them a permanent home.

“The ducks don’t have many foraging skills . . . they suffer, unfortunately, and could die of exposure or become victim of a predator,” said Chris Alexander, Markham’s supervisor of licensing and animal services who, with the help of the Ontario SPCA, recently captured and relocated about a dozen of the birds to a horse farm near Tottenham.

With the question of how the ducks ended up at the park now answered in part by Hilscher’s photographs, some in the community have developed their own theories as to why the ducks were dumped there in the first place.

Alexander said he was told by a Natural Resources ministry official that the dump could be a religious practice, specifically a Buddhist custom where animals are released as an act of compassion.

The “animal release” custom is seen by some Buddhists as a way to bring about good karma and good health, said Henry Shiu, a University of Toronto religion professor who specializes in Buddhist studies.

Many people in the GTA and elsewhere around the world continue to practise the custom despite the environmental consequences, he said. “I think they don’t know they actually cause many problems.”

Jolanta Kowalski, a ministry spokeswoman, said she could not confirm that the duck dump was related to a Buddhist custom as “we just don’t know,” but said ministry officials were aware of certain religious practices that encourage the release of domestic species into the wild.

Alexander, who agreed with Shiu that the duck drop was not a malicious act, said he hoped that awareness of the problem would convince the individual or individuals to stop.

“If (the ducks) do end up being slaughtered for human consumption, that’s one thing. But they’re going to die a worse death out in the wild than they would in the slaughterhouse,” he said. “They’ll suffer a heck of a lot more.”


If you would like to see some of the wild birds we spotted in Milne Dam Conservation Park, on the day these tame ducks were released, come to:

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