Handouts Encourage Red Cedar Wildlife to Stay Put Year Round

For many of Michigan State University’s students, feeding the ducks along the Red Cedar River in East Lansing, Mich. is nothing but relaxing and enjoyable. However, the activity that many students have in common causes problems for wildlife. Normally, ducks do not stick around for a polar Great Lakes winter, but these adamant animals will if they have a steady food intake. While many of the ducks travel south, some brave the cold due to the promise of food from residents.  The best thing for their health would be to not feed the animals, according to the land specialist for the Grand Traverse Conservation District, Ben Purdy. Purdy said ducks in the Great Lakes region naturally feed off greenery in the bottom of rivers and ponds.  With limited food supply in the river, ducks grow reliant on the scraps people throw them. Feeding the ducks over time causes an unnatural concentration of wildlife and a number of problems concerning E. coli and duck waste. There are many potential impacts that are caused by feeding the ducks.  Feeding wild ducks leads to: poor nutrition, spread of disease, unnatural behavior, overcrowding and pollution. First of all, birds eating human foods will suffer from malnutrition by filling up on bread and crackers and not consuming the nutrients they need. This can lead to heart and liver problems. Ducks usually defecate in the areas they eat and this adds to the unhygienic  nature of a particular area. Furthermore, ducks who are used to being fed will congregate on the shore, anticipating food and some may even engage in dangerous behaviors to get to a food source. Ducks will also gather in large numbers at a location where food is available, cause overcrowding in that area. In order to reduce the risk of endangering Michigan State’s wildlife, I feel that educating the community about the impact of feeding the ducks would be the most beneficial. To prevent these issues from occurring again, students could post flyers around campus explaining why ducks shouldn’t be fed and even create an online database about it.



By: Frances Allen


3 responses

  1. It’s hard to tell people not to feed something that’s as cute as the ducks. If it were tarantulas per say I think we would not be having the same issues. The population of the birds growing in the area and the succeeding health issues that follow that increase can be seen as a mirror image of the human population today. We are growing way too fast and it is putting a strain on the earth’s resources in a very dangerous way. Not only food and water but the sheer amount of people that are present cause for more disease and waste to be had than ever before in the earth’s history. I think we need to start thinking of people the way we do these animals. It is very easy to control these populations (condoms, surgeries, abstinence) and it could help alleviate the mass demands that we are putting on the earth and maybe even reverse the trend. Lets start thinning out the herds.

    Rachael Hindman

  2. I found this article interesting because I did a similar post on the e.coli and bacteria in The Grand River. I think people do not realize the harmful effects that something as simple as feeding ducks has on the river. While the river looks pretty, it actually is nasty. The ducks stay around all year for food anticipating that they will receive some food. They do, but them staying in East Lansing is harmful to them. They are not fitted for the harsh winters and will die. I think people really need to take note of the harm feeding the ducks has on the duck population, as well as the bacteria getting into the river.

    Sara DeJonge

  3. I had no idea that simply feeding a duck could possibly cause that much drama. I think MSU should really think about investing in some signs or other ways to make people aware that they shouldn’t feed the ducks. I wonder if even MSU officials are aware of this problem? Most likely not. But in order to maintain a sustainable environment and animal populations it’s something we have to do and create awareness about.

    Kary Askew

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