Quackdown on feeding ducks at Doncaster park

Ducks take to the shade on a hot sunny day in Sandall Park, Wheatley Hills.

Ducks take to the shade on a hot sunny day in Sandall Park, Wheatley Hills.

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It is a tradition dating back nearly 80 years – but feeding bread to the ducks in Sandall Park could soon be history.

Officials at the group Friends of Sandall Park have launched a major campaign to stop people from tossing bread into the lake because of concerns over animal welfare and what they consider to be fly-tipping of food.

Sandra Crabtree, chairman of FoSP, said her group was concerned about the issue. Some families have already been approached by volunteers and asked to stop.

Mrs Crabtree said: “This practice has gone on ever since the park got a lake in 1939, but it is having a hugely detrimental effect on the lake and the wildlife.

“White bread causes angel wing in the ducks and geese. This results in deformities in their wings – bones stick out with no feathers on them – disease and ultimately a horrible death.

“It pollutes the water, attracts rats and is no benefit to the seagulls who squabble over it.

“It also increases the number of Canada geese that fly in and create all the mess that is a danger to health and results in the most common complaint about the park – poo on the paths.”

The group is also concerned about problems with people dumping large amounts of bread.

The Friends group regards it as fly-tipping and believes it creates a major pollution and rat problem and a concerted effort is being made to catch those who are doing it.

Volunteers have brought duck food to sell and will be at the park to warn people of the dangers of feeding white bread to the ducks over the next few weeks.

The RSPB have been consulted and have told the group they are keen to assist the campaign. Doncaster Council is also backing the friends group.

Ms Crabtree said the friends group was now appealing to people not to bring bread to the park, but to bring lettuce, peas, seed or duck food.

Don Crabtree, another member of the friends group, said people had already been asked to stop throwing bread to the birds.

He said: “The vast majority of people that we have approached have been very understanding.

“But there are some who say ‘we have always done this, and we will always continue to do so’.

“Some of our volunteers have taken duck food down there and offered to exchange bread for a bag of duck food.

“But there is nothing we can do to stop people if they insist on feeding the ducks bread.

“However, on the other issue, people dumping commercial quantities of bread, if we catch anyone we’ll report them to the council.”