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