Dubai Emaar is removing ducks from lakes in Emirates Living communities on fears that they are spreading diseases, an Emaar newsletter to residents read.
Last week, the master-developer removed the birds from lakes near Deema 3 and Deema 4 in The Lakes. “The duck population in Emirates Living has expanded significantly in the past months and whilst it is fun to feed and watch the ducks, they are not good for the well-being of the community. Ducks may spread diseases from visiting local bird populations.
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“Feeding ducks may also introduce rodent issues,” the notice read, which also said bacteria growth could be triggered by duck faeces.
“Food waste from feeding these ducks are deposited on the water’s edge. It is unsightly and smells bad. Food such as bread which is fed to ducks pollute the water and creates a breeding habitat for flies. It also becomes an alternative food source for fish which normally feed on aquatic larvae to control mosquito population. The community is seeking assistance from Dubai Municipality to control the increasing duck population, but cooperation from residents is essential to resolve this matter,” the newsletter stated.
However, residents are not happy to see the ducks go. “Every afternoon I would go down to the lakes with my little baby who used to be excited seeing the ducks. What harm can a duck do? The ducks will be missed by all of us,” said a Dutch resident of The Lakes.
“A few ducks on the lakes cannot create a health hazard. I agree that one should not over-feed them or feed them wrong food, but completely removing them is not a good idea,” an Indian resident said.
“Reasons cited by Emaar are baseless since just having ten or twelve ducks in a lake can pose no threat,” another British resident said.
Dr Kay Thompson, Veterinary Specialist, Modern Veterinary Clinic said: “Worldwide there are concerns about resident duck populations impacting the well-being of migrating birds. There are diseases that can exist in bird populations that can spread to migrating birds. Over crowding, poor water quality and fecal contamination of the water sources can increase these risks.
“Excess food left by the ducks can also attract all kinds of pests. It is never easy to discourage children from feeding these birds. But ultimately, it is in the interests of the ducks themselves and the migrating birds to find them the right balance of nutrition. If the duck population is managed at proper levels you’ll see a greater variety of birds visiting the waterway which are less likely to experience an outbreak of disease.”
In 2009, a number of birds were found dead on the banks of the lakes in The Springs after a toxic chemical got into the water. Following the incident, Emaar relocated many ducks to a nearby farm to allow them to heal.
An Emaar spokesperson said: “The ducks were first released by a resident into the lake without seeking necessary permissions. As per community rules, breeding of birds and poultry in the community is explicitly prohibited. The increasing number of ducks led to large deposits of fecal matter in the lakes that could lead to growth of algae and weed, apart from introducing pathogens that could have potential harmful effects on the residents, pets and the ducks too.
“While we understand the concerns regarding their removal from the lake, we reiterate that the ducks have been relocated to farms where they are provided adequate care, nutrition and protection. Also, the lakes in the community serve as catchment basins during rains and are not suitable habitats for ducks. We are committed to the safety and well-being of our residents and undertake adequate measures that are important for the long-term welfare of the community.”