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Extermination of Muscovy ducks upsets Bradenton mobile home resident

MANATEE -- No matter what anyone says to justify it, Carol Wiese of Floridana Mobile Home Park is holding tight to her outrage that Floridana recently authorized the killing of the 30 to 40 Muscovy ducks that inhabited its lake.

“I just found out our homeowner association board unanimously voted to kill the ducks in the pond,” Wiese said from the park on State Road 70, not far from U.S. 41. “They killed every duck.

“They told me some homeowners on the lake didn’t want to repaint their carport every year. I don’t understand why people who choose to live along a lake would choose to have all the ducks killed. This is a park where pets are allowed. It is advertised as one of the only dog friendly parks in Bradenton. It sounds like they are saying, ‘Bring us your dogs and cats, but let us kill the ducks if they make a mess.’ ”

Wiese says others in the park are also upset that the large black-and-white Muscovies were shot with pellet guns by an nuisance wildlife removal company this summer.

But many are afraid to go public, Wiese said.

“I will probably be the duck lady from now on,” Wiese said.

While local wildlife and bird experts sympathize with Wiese’s outrage, they say the park did nothing wrong because Muscovies are an invasive nuisance species not protected by the state.

“The park was absolutely within its rights,” Gary Morse of the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission said Tuesday. “Muscovies are not regulated by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. They are domesticated. Unfortunately, Muscovies create problems for migrating wildlife. They harbor water fowl diseases that can be spread. They will cross breed with wild ducks.”

Barbara Singer, president of the Audubon Society of Manatee County, says the park did everything by the book -- almost.

“I would agree they were well in their right to do what they did, but my first choice would have been to destroy the duck eggs and the ducks would be eliminated by process of attrition,” Singer said. “That would have been a more humane way.”

The Audubon Society does not strive to protect Muscovy ducks, Singer said.

“They are sort of like feral cats,” Singer said. “Everything the park did was certainly legal.”

Moscovy ducks do more damage to property than other fowl, Morse said.

“The secretions are larger and higher in acidity than other ducks’,” Morse added.

Victor Lima, a member of the Floridana board of directors, said he is also sensitive to Wiese’s emotional reaction to the killings, but that a great many residents wanted it done.

“People kept feeding them and feeding them and they were messing in everyone’s driveways and lawns and people were slipping in it,” Lima said Tuesday. “We had an awful lot of complaints.”

Eggs were also found in gardens and in the eves of carports, Lima said.

Although Wiese said she never saw a public notice for the meeting where the vote was taken to kill the ducks, Lima says that all board meetings are noticed at the park office 48 hours before the meetings are held.

But Lima is not sure if the meeting was in June, July or August.

Lima said the board of directors researched the Muscovy duck issue and found out that the fecal matter can carry parasites that could harm dogs, cats and kids in the park. They also found out that the ducks couldn’t be shot with rifles in city limits and could not be moved “out East” as some residents suggested, Lima said.

“There was no intent to do anything bad,” Lima said. “We had to listen to our people. We called a company in the phone book. The only way you can get rid of Muscovy ducks is to shoot them with pellets. Believe me, we didn’t do this because we don’t like animals.”

Morse said Lima is accurate that Muscovies can’t be relocated, which could have been a state infraction.

Morse recommends that Floridana residents leave the pond the way it is now and watch for wild ducks, like wood ducks, to migrate there.

“All wildlife should be observed from afar,” Morse said when asked about the duck feeding practices of some residents. “Feeding ducks human food is not only unhealthy but encourages nuisance behavior.”

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.