PRINCETON — Domesticated water fowl abandoned at Glenwood Recreational Park are now facing a tragic tale during this winter season.
Last summer Jeffery King, a wildlife lover, encountered a group of 10 unique birds at the park.
King, who was spending free time during the coronaivurs pandemic walking his dog around the lake, returned home to research the birds after taking some photographs of the flock. According to his research, the group composed of six white domestic ducks, one solid black duck, another solid beige duck, a Greylag Goose and a Swan Goose. The birds’ wings were clipped and they did not fear humans as much as the rest of the birds at the lake. It became obvious to King that these birds had been left at the park by an owner.
“As I watched them, it became evident that their wings had been cropped and that they could not fly,” King said. “While this did not appear to be a problem for them during the summer, it has become a tragic set of circumstances this winter.”
After a family emergency around the holidays, King returned to his daily wildlife walk at Glenwood Recreational Park after about a month’s absence.
“When I came out here after about a month or so, the lake was frozen solid,” King said. “Only five of the birds remained alive, standing on the ice. It was evident that the other birds had been killed by either a dog, cat, or some other animal that was able to get on the ice and attack them. The carnage of what was left of some of the birds, mostly feathers, was found along the lake shore. The person who abandoned the birds probably had good intentions, no matter how misguided, and thought that the animals would do well in a natural surrounding.”
King attempted to contact the park, but since it is closed for the season, received a recorded message. He feared the birds would encounter more harm before his message was heard, so he kept trying. Next, he called an animal shelter, then an avian rescue group, to no avail. Most organizations are not able to accept domesticated animals of this type. On Monday morning, King sent an email to Bluefield Daily Telegraph Editor Samantha Perry asking for assistance.
“I understand that death is a part of nature,” King wrote in his email to Perry. “If these were wild birds that, due to either old age or sickness, could no longer avoid the inevitable, I could accept the fact that their demise is part of a natural process of nature. However, that is not the case here. These birds were domesticated. Their wings were cropped by man and they were abandoned by man. Only man can save them. They no longer have that natural defense of flying away. It is not right that they helplessly wait to be killed off by whatever animal comes along.”
The smallest of the ducks appears to be ill and in distress.
Mercer County Commissioner, Greg Puckett said Monday evening that no matter the circumstances of Glenwood’s domesticated avians, the relinquishing of the responsibility of a domesticated animal is a tragedy.
“It is truly a tragedy when the owner of a domesticated animal relinquishes those responsibilities. If it is a goose, cat, dog, hamster, it doesn’t matter,” Puckett said. “When you accept the ability to be a pet owner, you are a pet owner and relinquishing those duties just because it might be difficult, is unacceptable. From my understanding, we have had a few domesticated animals show up at the park and unfortunately due to nature taking over, that has caused another issue.”
Puckett said that he has made a few referrals to avian groups about the current bird situation at Glenwood Park, but at the moment there is no clear resolution.
“As a county there are certain obligations we have for the safety and security of our domestic animals, but when it goes beyond our capabilities, our capacity or our code, there are only certain things we can do,” Puckett said. “We made some referrals to an aviary group but beyond that I am not sure what we can do at this point, which is why responsible ownership should be at the forefront.”
However, this is not Glenwood Park’s first goose-related issue. Puckett said that in years past, Mercer County has had some issues with the growing population of geese and ducks at Glenwood Park.
“We have had some issues over the past few years where we tried to sterilize where they were reproducing and causing a problem environmentally,” Puckett said. “When you get that many of them in a confined area it becomes an environmental issue as well as a recreational issue. We have had some things where we have tried to work with the population…this is a little bit of a different matter.”
As a wintery rain fell on the half-frozen lake at Glenwood Park on Monday afternoon, King watched the birds huddled for warmth on the ice from the safety of a picnic shelter on the dock.
“When someone goes towards birds, they will fly if they can. These don’t fly away. They can’t and they aren’t afraid. It was pretty easy to know the little white ducks were domesticated. It is obvious that their wings are clipped and they can’t fly so they are just sitting around waiting to get killed,” King said. “I am hoping that someone can help them. It isn’t right for their wings to be clipped and be just left out here.”
“We are calling on all responsible community pet owners that if there is every an opportunity to adopt these animals and secure them in a safe environment then that would be great,” Puckett said. “I say that about every animal. I have two rescue cats myself that I picked up at the shelter and we are always needing good owners for rescue, no matter what kind of animal it is.”
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