The 365 Commitment

On Killing Ducks

I live in a neighborhood with a lake, one of of those man made places that they stock with cat fish, rent out paddle boards and have quaint gazebos made out of termite treated press board. I have been here 16 years, and over time a population of ducks have found their home here. This is quite convenient for them. Large body of water, plenty of food and a nice landscaped areas to build their nests and raise young ducklings.

The State of California assembly, in their infinite wisdom, passed a law to ban the feeding of ducks. You see the well intentioned people who like to feed the ducks stale old white bread from their refrigerators, do not realize a problem that is being created. The uneaten bread causes mold, which makes ducks sick. It also causes algae growth which kills other animals and spreads bacteria contagion. The water becomes rather nasty, which does not seem to bother those cat fish. They would probably survive a nuclear winter.

Anyway, the legislature banned one of the favorite past times of people of every generation. Feeding ducks bread. Who knew we were actually killing them. That brings me to the story that I am witnessing every day. The killing of a duck. You see it is spring time and the ducks are nesting. The pair off and breed and create nice hiding spots to lay their eggs. The male duck stands guard while the female duck tends to the eggs. It is all part of spring time bliss around here. However, that is until some do gooder decided to intervene. We now have a famous duck right next to the lake.

You see one day, some well intended saint saw a female duck preparing her nest in a rather poor location. Sun beating down on the poor thing, her male duck abandoned her from reason. Perhaps she was too annoying always yelling at him for not gathering enough sticks, who knows. Perhaps he found another female duck and now he will find himself in a custody dispute. Anyway, this do gooder put a small umbrella over the duck to keep it protected from the sun. Now this caused a bit of fanfare. Facebook lit up, people gather around. Now every morning people come by and feed this duck and wish her well as she sits on her eggs.

It has been a few weeks. Duck is still there, under her umbrella. She does not need to go anywhere at all. She has discovered that if she keeps up this pretense, that people will keep bringing her food, I saw a lady today pouring bottled water in a cup for the duck and putting out some nice gluten free crackers. The duck is happily sitting their, pretending to be nursing some eggs along and eating crackers. Perhaps she needs the gluten free, because she has gained a few pounds. Amazing how quickly the sedentary lifestyle creeps up on a duck. 2 weeks of a waddle free life and she is already feeling the effects.

Everyone comes by and visits the duck now, brings her treats. She did not need that stupid old mallard, she is fine sitting right here on display being treated by royalty. People in the neighborhood feel like they are doing a good turn by taking care of Mrs. Duck.

Reality is we are collectively killing the poor thing. Overfeeding it, teaching it to be a little too friendly with people. Setting it up in a nice spot for a predator to grab a snack while no one is looking. Basically this is a dead duck. It will not survive the Spring. It will die from disease, too much weight gain, or physical harm from one of the dogs in the neighborhood getting loose. I saw a dog today eyeballing that bird, and I could read his thoughts. Oh…you just wait until I slip out the front door one of these days. I remember that umbrella, you better believe it.

This is an interesting paradigm we find ourselves in. Does our good intent sometimes cause the most harm? Curious.

Guy Reams

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