Continued illegal duck abandonment at Bountiful Pond raises concernsFeb 01, 2024 11:44AM ● By Peri Kinder
Volunteers from Wasatch Wanderers risk freezing water and cold temperatures to rescue abandoned domestic ducks at Bountiful Pond. Photo courtesy of Wasatch Wanderers
For the second year in a row, Wasatch Wanderers rescued domestic ducks illegally abandoned at Bountiful Pond. Once the pond froze over, the ducks were forced into a nearby canal but eventually, the canal will also freeze, leaving the ducks with no food or water, and exposing them to predators. Because they are domestic ducks, they don’t have the ability to fly away or defend themselves.
Addison Smith, co-founder of the WW domestic farm animal rescue group, organized volunteers to save the ducks in what she said is an ongoing problem. More than 70 ducks were abandoned at Bountiful Pond last year but only 47 were able to be rescued, placed in foster care and given veterinary care.
“This time, there is at least one duck that will need four months of medical attention but the other ones are doing OK. They’re just petrified,” Smith said.
According to Utah Code Ann. 76-9-301, it’s illegal to abandon domestic animals. For ducks, abandonment is almost always a death sentence. In addition to putting the ducks at risk, domestic animals deplete natural resources because they can’t migrate. They also pass on disease to wild animals and wreak havoc on the ecosystem.
Smith contacted Bountiful City to ask if the city could add signs to existing posts around the pond, educating residents about the law and providing information if someone needs to get rid of a domestic farm animal.
“We have very limited funds and resources,” Smith said. “We offered the city what we’ve offered dozens of cities, that we remove the ducks and draft signage that would be professionally made. In exchange for those signs, we would remove the ducks.”
Brock Hill, Bountiful City parks director said WW was given permission to post two signs at the pond but the organization requested approximately 10 signs at a cost between $125 – $150 each. Hill said the signs would have to be paid for and maintained using public funds and city staff time.
“We occasionally receive requests from organizations to put up signs on city properties promoting their causes,” Hill said. “Most of these, like the work being done by WW, promote something worthwhile, but if we did everything requested by every group we would soon have signs everywhere. We try to strike a balance between posting useful information and not creating visual clutter. We invite WW to post two signs as previously mentioned at their cost and convenience.”
With the size of the pond, Smith said two signs are not enough to inform the public. She understands the city wants to keep the pond natural, but she added there’s nothing natural about abandoned ducks.
WW reports a 90% drop in animal abandonments in cities that post signs near ponds. Smith said most people don’t realize it’s a crime to abandon a domestic farm animal and end up reaching out to a rescue organization to take the animals into foster care.
Smith worries that with population growth and multiple farm supply stores in the area Bountiful City’s duck abandonment problem will only grow. She said without the city’s help in getting the signage posted, WW can’t afford to keep returning to Bountiful Pond to save the animals.
“The numbers of animals getting abandoned, not just ducks but rabbits and chickens, has increased exponentially,” Smith said. “All we ask is that they put up those signs so we can spend our finances and our resources elsewhere. We offer free removal and veterinary care. We do it all ourselves. They weren’t interested in it and it was very disappointing.”
For information about donating to WW or to become a farm animal foster, visit Wasatchwanderers.org.