Locals Take Ducks Under Their Wing, Promote Better Diet

Community raises hundreds of dollars to end an age old tradition and get the public's ducks in a row

It's a timeless tradition playing out in any community with a small lake or pond. Parents bring their children and bags of old crusty bread to feed the ducks along the shoreline.

But, this long-standing tradition can't end soon enough according to a small group of activists in Scripps Ranch who want to educate the public about the dangers of bread to a duck's diet.

They hope their message spreads across the county and so far, it's off to a good start.

Like many parents, Laura Shepherd used to take her children to feed bread to the ducks at nearby Evans Pond next to the Scripps Ranch Library, but an informative post on Facebook made her realize it was doing more harm than good.

Shepherd contacted the Scripps Ranch Civic Association about fundraising for signs to put up at the local ponds to let others know as well.

The signs don't just tell people not to feed the ducks bread, but tell them why, and which food items they should substitute instead.

"We just thought we need to spread awareness, cause I don't think people want to hurt the ducks, but they just don't know any better," said Shepherd.

Within hours of posting their message on an online fundraising site, the group raised the $650 needed to buy the signs.

They plan on placing two signs at Evans Pond and two others at nearby Hendrix Pond.

Mary Zanotelli, an environmental educator who joined the effort, said in addition to making the ducks malnourished and obese, a high-carb high-protein diet can lead to a condition called "Angel Wing" which is a deformity of their wings that prohibits them from flying.

The signs, soon to be posted, tell visitors to feed the ducks cut up seedless grapes, cooked rice, birdseed, corn, oats, and peas instead.

"I've heard mallards are especially fond of Kale," said Zanotelli.

The signs are in the process of being ordered, but the group hopes other communities will step up and take similar action in the meantime to protect their ducks.

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