March 26, 2015 by HCMUD 71
Prior to development, the area that now comprises Harris County MUD 71 (HCMUD 71) was home to many species of native and domestic animals. Over the course of the last 25 years the development of HCMUD 71, and surrounding communities, has forced many of these animals to relocate to areas that still meet their native habitat needs. However, some native and domestic animals still live in areas within our community such as lakes, drainage channels and landscape reserves. Many of our HCMUD 71 residents enjoy relaxing by one of our numerous lakes and feeding the ducks. Adults and children both enjoy tossing leftover bread to our lake inhabitants. Some residents may even have names for their “special pet” or look out for their well-being by providing regular feedings and nesting sites.
High density duck/waterfowl populations can contribute to reduced water quality that lessens the aesthetic value of our lakes and may present health hazards. Adult ducks produce about a 1/3 lb. of manure each day. This waste contributes significantly to the nutrient load in the water causing algae, weed and bacterial concerns as well as odors. Waterfowl also love to nest in flower beds for protection and cause considerable damage to grass, plants and shrubs. In waters that have no shoreline stabilization, such as a bulkhead, ducks tend to forage at the soil-water interface disturbing the soil and accelerating erosion. In summary, duck population in a park environment also causes a need for increased park maintenance. Did you know that HCMUD71 had to expend approximately $41,500 of District funds this past fiscal year for increased maintenance needs and population control (i.e. power washing the plaza area and gazebo, purchasing signs to inform park visitors of the District’s wishes for the ducks to not be fed, chemical treatments of lake vegetation, and humane duck removal services)? These are funds that could have been utilized for park beautification projects such as reforestation, new site furnishings, etc.
Although there are no set guidelines for the number of waterfowl a particular environment can support, the District routinely receives calls from residents related to an over abundance of ducks in particular areas. Weighing the recreational and aesthetic value of ducks verses water quality, health hazards and asset damage issues are a balancing act for the District. Waterfowl issues are notorious for polarizing residents both for and against their existence. The question is not whether to allow waterfowl at District lakes as much as it is to allow for their population control. In an effort to naturally reduce the duck population to numbers that are adequate for our lake environments, the District is requesting assistance from residents in adhering to the following non-evasive control methods:
- Please no feeding the ducks, especially with specialized feed or on regular schedules or routines
- Residents are discouraged from abandoning domestic ducklings into District lakes
- Creating man-made habitats or nests that may encourage reproduction should be avoided
We hope that as residents you will assist the District in its endeavor to manage our delicate balance of wildlife and development.
– Fowled for Feeding Feathered Friends (PDF)