Ducks dodge displacement

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Ashley Pond > Duck buddies hope to relocate this weekend

By Arin McKenna

The fence around Ashley Pond has gone up, the pond is being drained and RMCI is gearing up to begin improvements on the pond and park, but the ducks are balking at relocation.

“They just haven’t been able to catch them,” said Parks Division Senior Office Specialist Roxie Mascarenas in response to concerns that the ducks are still in the pond. An optimistic Friday press release from Los Alamos County erroneously said the ducks had already been relocated.

Despite seven attempts, Duck Buddies has managed to relocate only two ducks and the pond’s resident pair of geese to an enclosure built especially for them at the Parks Division offices.

“Sallye (Sibbitt of Duck Buddies) has put two kiddy pools in there for them, and they’re very happy. They’re just having a ball playing in the water. So they’re doing fine,” Mascarenas said.

The rest of the recalcitrant ducks are on the lam.

“It’s been very difficult, because they’re mostly out in the water, and you have to wait until they come up on the grass,” Mascarenas said. “Now that the fencing has gone up around the pond, the public isn’t able to get in there to feed them, so they’re getting hungry. So they’re starting to respond and come out to hand feeding, and they’re trying to get them that way and net them.”

Sibbitt said that the fencing is also useful, since it helps them corral the ducks. Sibbitt and Carl Max renewed their efforts Saturday morning. One Boy Scout from Troop 42 had also committed to helping. He was hoping to mobilize other members of his troop and planned to bring his little sister as well. Sibbitt also had a “maybe” from a friend with waders.

“As the pond gets drier, it’s easier to catch them,” Sibbitt said. “The fence also helps because we can catch them against that.”

Sibbitt has an additional problem. People have been dropping of those grown Easter ducklings. The new arrivals cannot be relocated to the Pajarito Cliffs enclosures.

“We can’t house them with the established ducks, since they’ll try to injure or kill them,” Sibbitt said.
Sibbitt is asking residents with backyard ponds to provide a home for the newcomers. She also asks people to not to add to the problem next Easter.

“People think they’ll have a good life at pond, but it’s not. The ducks will try to drown other males and since they’re all male, a female will be bred to death,” Sibbitt said. “Ducks can live 20 years, and geese 30, so people need to think about this when they get them as pets.”

Sibbitt did not expect to catch all the remaining ducks Saturday, but wanted to reassure those concerned for the ducks.

“They’re not in imminent danger, and we’ll take care of them every day,” Sibbitt said. “We’ll keep chipping away at it until we get them all.”

The pond improvement project aims to correct pond eutrophication (depletion of oxygen in the water). Other upgrades include new sidewalks and bulkheads around the pond, landscaping and water features, improved ADA accessibility and a new concert stage.