Lickey rangers today sought to reassure local people who are concerned for the welfare of two hybrid Mallard / Indian Runner Ducks on Lickey Hills duck ponds.
The flightless birds are favourites with visitors to the country park, including staff and customers at the Lickey Lips Cafe, next to the duck ponds and golf course on Rose Hill.
The pools require extensive renovation works so have been fenced off and drained. The work will continue until June. The runner ducks cannot fly and are currently behind the fencing in the drained and silt filled ponds.
Clare Gibbs, who works at the cafe, said: “I pointed them out to the rangers weeks ago and said that I would do my best to help capture and relocate. The lovely ladies at Tardibigge Farm Sanctuary are willing to rehome them for the duration of the work and have lent me a box and net but, as they’re fenced in and now spooked, I can’t catch them.
“… several customers asked what was going to happen with them and who was going to rescue them.”
Clare, and others, informed the Lickey Hills Rangers and the RSPCA but they feel it is best to leave the ducks at the moment, fearing attempts to capture them could cause them a huge amount of stress and, ultimately, may lead to their deaths.
Senior Northfield ranger Steve Hinton explained: “To remove the [hybrid] ducks, which are highly mobile, would lead to a stressful chase for the ducks and, in all probability, this would end in their deaths through stress or stress related illnesses.
“The two ducks, who are hand tame, have realised that people want them caught and are being cautious which reduces the chances of us catching them.” he added.
Steve points out that many of the wild ducks at the site have also stayed as they are being well fed by visitors to the area. He told us: “The majority of the wildfowl on the pool are wild and are able to find alternative bodies of water if they wish to. At the moment they are content to stay where they are due to the amount of freely and easily accessible food they receive daily.”
Clare, however, is adamant that the ducks should be moved and thinks that: “[…] leaving them in a muddy hole, now drained with no shelter or safe ground and no means of escape, [is] animal cruelty.”
But rangers assured us that they are keeping a close eye on the birds in order to protect their welfare. Steve told us: “We have met with an RSPCA inspector today and the consensus is, at this point in time, attempting to chase down and catch the two ducks would be counterproductive to their health and to the other ducks currently using the pool. We will continue to monitor the situation along with the RSPCA.”