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MEDIA RELEASE: MISSING: Copper Grove’s 100+ Muscovy Ducks Vanish

MEDIA RELEASE: MISSING: Copper Grove’s 100+ Muscovy Ducks Vanish

Neighbors Suspect Foul Play with Friendly Waterfowl

HOUSTON (March 5, 2021) — In Defense of Animals is outraged by the disappearance of over 100 Muscovy ducks from the Copper Grove neighborhood outside of Houston. More than 8,000 In Defense of Animals supporters contacted local decision-makers urging them to use humane, non-lethal management techniques to address any conflicts in January.

One family came to their favorite pond prepared for their daily ritual of feeding the Muscovy ducks only to leave with disappointment. There were no ducks to feed. Neighbors say they heard a ruckus at the pond late one night. By morning all of the ducks on one pond were gone, without a feather left behind.  

“I am sick to my stomach over this as we all tried so hard to keep this from happening,” said Copper Grove resident and duck advocate Deborah Adani. “That mass of ducks didn’t just disappear.” 

After driving through the entire neighborhood, Adani counted just 30 remaining ducks of the total estimated prior population of 150.

Residents and visitors enjoyed feeding these Muscovy ducks, who lived at the county park and pond in the heart of Copper Grove which is maintained by Municipal Utility District (MUD) 188. Following complaints about duck dungs on the sidewalk, the MUD erected signs banning duck-feeding at the pond. After that happened, residents started feeding the ducks in their yards, where ducklings were safe from pond predators like great blue herons, snapping turtles, owls, and hawks. As a result, the Muscovy duck population proliferated. 

On January 27, Copper Grove’s Homeowners Association (HOA) met to discuss the Copper Grove's Muscovy ducks. Duck advocates like Deborah Adani and In Defense of Animals campaigner Lisa Levinson were muted by the meeting organizers and prevented from describing effective non-lethal duck management methods.

 

Left: The Copper Grove Muscovy ducks before the disappearance. 

Right: The Copper Grove pond this week, now silent and empty.

Photos: Deborah Adani

 

On March 2, Copper Grove awoke to a duck-less pond. Residents suspect their local MUD 188 and Copper Grove’s HOA may have something to do with the disappearance of the ducks. The HOA and MUD may have contracted with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to kill the Muscovy ducks using walk-in baited traps and shooting. In Defense of Animals has launched an investigation and is determined to get to the bottom of this tragic mystery. 

“Contracting with the USDA’s bloodthirsty animal killing branch, Wildlife Services, to kill beloved wild animals is heartless and inhumane,” said Lisa Levinson of In Defense of Animals. “These friendly hand-fed ducks were likely lured into traps, separated from their families, and ruthlessly murdered by people they thought they could trust.”

In Defense of Animals receives similar reports against USDA’s Wildlife Services in many communities. Complaints against wild animals prompt local HOAs to contract with Wildlife Services. Despite its stated mission “to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist,” many times the agency skips over implementing humane management practices and instead removes animals by lethal means. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent killing wild animals in our communities every year. Whether the Copper Grove HOA or MUD 188 initiated the killing, residents are likely paying to kill these beloved ducks. 

However, lethal actions won't solve the problem, which stems from human behavior. Only changes in our behavior and nonlethal population management strategies like egg removal and OvoControl for ducks, which are widely used to humanely manage Muscovy ducks in Florida, address the root of the issue. The HOA announced its plans to fine residents for feeding the ducks: $250 for first time offense and up to $1,000 for repeat offenders.

 

### Notes ###

Effective non-lethal management techniques for Muscovy Ducks:

  • Discouraging residents and visitors from feeding the ducks
  • Allowing local predators to deter goose populations naturally (great blue herons, snapping turtles, owls, and hawks)
  • Starting a volunteer egg removal program, recommended by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (find details at http://arff.org/muscovy).
  • Feeding OvoControl pellets containing the contraceptive nicarbazin to the ducks, which is USDA approved for Muscovy ducks with a migratory bird permit
  • Electing a wild animal expert to the HOA board who can help resolve human-animal conflicts via nonlethal methods that value ecosystems  
     

In Defense of Animals’ alert to save the Copper Grove Muscovy ducks was signed by over 8,000 people: https://www.idausa.org/campaign/wild-animals-and-habitats/latest-news/stop-copper-groves-muscovy-duck-massacre/

In Defense of Animals launched its National Goose Protection Coalition in 2019 to help concerned citizens stop roundups in their communities. Members of the public can find resources to help their communities implement effective, non-lethal, and humane goose management strategies at: www.stopgooseabuse.org

Contacts:

Lisa Levinson, lisa@idausa.org, 215-620-2130

Deborah Adani, dadani51@gmail.com, 313-330-7194

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/wildanimals

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