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The Ram Pasture's'Sitting' Ducks And Geese



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The Ram Pasture’s

‘Sitting’ Ducks And Geese

To the Editor:

I am very concerned about the abandoned ducks and geese living at the Ram Pasture in town.

As they are not wild animals and cannot sufficiently fend for themselves, they will eventually starve to death unless they are fed specially formulated duck or game pellets on a regular, daily basis. The bread and crackers I have seen citizens feeding them may fill them up, but they do not contain the nutrients these animals require, and the starvation process will only be prolonged.

I’d like to try and garner practical help and support by asking if there are a few people in town who would like to work with me to keep these wonderful animals healthy and well-fed.

I propose creating a feeding schedule where (hopefully) seven volunteers commit to one day of the week to stop by Hawley Pond at the Ram Pasture with duck pellets, which can be purchased at any feed store, such as Agway, to feed 14 domestic geese and eight muskovy ducks. A 50-pound bag costs nine or ten dollars and should last each individual approximately one month. This is, until these birds begin reproducing in the spring. Then, there will be many more...

Since I became aware of them early last spring, I have been heartsick over the plight of the ducks and geese. I had seen them, but assumed they were owned and cared for by the families living there on the pond. In time, however, it became obvious to me they were starving and sickly. Many died, and more were lost to predators, as well. A goose was hit and killed by a car.

I’d brought my little daughters with me nearly everyday then, and we fed them throughout the spring. After a time I stopped doing that because we’d find a dead or missing bird most days. It was heart wrenching and especially difficult because my daughters had begun to identify and name them.

After, I tried to go and feed them on my own. Soon they began to reproduce. My family spent nearly $500 in vet bills trying to save a sickly little gosling whose mother had died, to no avail. I felt really defeated when one night, overnight, somebody dropped off 12 more geese…

The Ram Pasture ducks and geese are beautiful and friendly –– and they are very vulnerable. They cannot fly away and they depend upon humans to sustain (and protect) them.

On the surface it appears they live an idyllic life there on that lovely pond with people stopping by with their young children to feed them on beautiful days. (There was even a charming photo in The Bee of a white mother muskovy duck surrounded by her fuzzy ducklings –– but the photograph appeared two or three weeks after I found the mother duck dead beside the pond with her babies, minus a few. scurrying around on their own). However, in reality they are literally “sitting ducks,” at the mercy of the elements, of slow starvation, of unleashed dogs and wild predators, of tormenters (I witnessed an ugly taunting incident), and careless drivers.

Most people aren’t inclined to think of feeding ducks on rainy days or snowy days or super-hot days and, of course, most people don’t realize that the bread and cereal and crackers they are feeding them when they do are not only nonnutritious for these animals, they are actually harmful to them. It is very common for water fowl to choke to death on these foods. Also, the yeast in the bread and the mold that grows quickly on it is poisonous to them and takes a terrible toll on them, making them sick over time.

I believe most of us grew up feeding wild ducks and geese thinking we were doing a wonderful thing! I know I did! In fact, it was only a few years ago that I learned what a harmful practice it is.

So, is there anyone in our community who would care to make a commitment to feeding the Ram Pasture ducks and geese along with me? I know many of you do care about them. I cannot handle the seven-day commitment nor the expense alone.

Maybe we can put our heads together and figure out how to get them off the pond altogether (before they reproduce) and into safe and protective homes. Please call me at 426-5243.

Thank you,

Nancy Sprung

7 Papoose Hill Road, Newtown                            December 27, 2003

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