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County to tackle growing duck population in village

DON'T FEED THE DUCKS. They may be picturesque, but Hyde County officials urge all not to feed the mallard ducks to help control the booming population. Photo by Melinda Sutton

DON’T FEED THE DUCKS. They may be picturesque, but Hyde County officials urge all not to feed the mallard ducks to help control the booming population.  Here some are crossing Irvin Garrish Highway near British Cemetery Road. Photo by Melinda Sutton

By Connie Leinbach

Despite the picturesque aspect of flocks of mallard ducks causing traffic stops along the main roads in the heart of the village, these ducks are creating potential health hazards by leaving piles of calling cards wherever they roost.

An unofficial estimate is that there are about 300 in and around the heart of the village around Community Square and British Cemetery Road.  Some fear that in spring, when courtship resumes, this number will triple.

Hyde County Manager Bill Rich said he has received numerous calls from residents and business owners about the surfeit of ducks. Some of those are lodging owners whose guests have complained about the droppings.

“People are trapped in their rooms,” he said at the Dec. 9 Ocracoke Civic and Business Association meeting. “It’s an unhealthy thing.”

Businesses owners have told him that the many ducks—and cleaning up after them—are costing them money.

The Hyde County Health Department has sent him a letter on this as well.

In November, the county kicked into action and has researched removing the ducks—a solution that those OCBA members at the meeting approved.

A portion of the growing mallard flock in Community Square. Photo by C. Leinbach

Special Assistant County Manager Will Doerfer was put on that task and said in an interview that the preferred solution is to remove the ducks to somewhere on the mainland.

However, for that to happen, the ducks have to be contained on private property since the ducks cannot just be released into the wild.

“They can’t intermingle with wild mallards,” he said. This is because, having been in human habitat, they may carry diseases.

The county has to obtain several permits for this to happen, and at the recent OCBA meeting Rich said they have found a property and a person to trap them.

He also said he has beseeched the permitting state agencies to accelerate the process within 60 days.

In the meantime, Doerfer stressed that the biggest help would be for people to stop feeding the ducks and remove food sources.

“Ducks have a higher procreation rate if they have a secure food source,” he said.

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2 replies »

  1. Years back we had tons of mallards in Avon. We haven’t seen a duck on our property in over 4 years. Would love to have them around again but many don’t share my views on that!

  2. Ducks have been a hallmark of Ocracoke forever, a favorite of tourists, and it seems a shame to abolish them totally. Is there a place for an equivalent of Ocracats- say, Ocraducks- to help in the solution?