A cute fuzzy duckling might seem like a perfect Easter gift. But, if they outgrow their welcome releasing them into the wild may not be an option. That’s because it is illegal to release captive-reared mallard ducks into the wild. Mallards are the most common ducks sold as pets.
Once released, domesticated ducks can transmit diseases – and compete with native wildlife for food and habitat. Wildlife biologists are also concerned that mallards put Florida’s mottled duck population at risk. Florida Fish & Wildlife waterfowl research biologist - Ron Bielefeld says the pet mallards don’t know to leave the area when its wild counterparts do.
“The mallard is an exotic here in the summertime. It’s not a native breeding duck…we do get a few wild mallards that migrate down here in the wintertime…but generally they move back north to breed. So in the summertime the only mallard-type duck we have is the Florida mottled duck.”
Because the domesticated mallards don’t migrate, they’re crossbreeding with the mottled duck.
Bielefeld estimates as many as 12 percent of Florida’s mottled duck population shows genetic evidence of hybridization. That might mean eventual extinction. Mallards as pets are legal…but only with only a permit.
Friday, 25 March 2005 00:00
DucksWritten by WGCU Newsroom