Feeding the ducks at Temecula Duck Pond Park and Harveston Lake is no longer allowed, as the city aims to reduce the waterfowl population with new signs prohibiting the practice.
The duck pond was dedicated more than 20 years ago and has since been a popular attraction for residents and visitors and a hub for city-hosted events.
In mid-June, resident Cheyney Stivalet and her mother entered the gate at the duck pond with four boxes of Cheerios in hand but were surprised to see the sign that prohibits duck feeding.
“I’ve been raving about feeding the ducks to my mom, who comes from Poway,” Stivalet said. “The whole point of this place is the ducks.”
Ducks at the city’s lake parks have overpopulated due to dependency on food handouts, which affected their natural migration patterns, according to Sergio Raya, a Temecula park ranger.
“In 2014 we noticed that there was a big inundation of waterfowl — and not just ducks, but coots — there were hundreds and hundreds of them,” Raya said.
Aside from the pond and the lake being a “hot zone” for ducks due to the plentiful food source, he said other problems attributed to the city’s decision to install the permanent signage.
“The cost to clean the water and the sidewalks was beyond our resources, and the vegetation started dying off because of the number of waterfowl killing off the grass that surrounds the lakes,” Raya said.
Raya said the ongoing renovation to the damaged grass and landscape costs Temecula tens of thousands of dollars every year. Also, he said, there was an increase of deceased ducks and turtles turning up in the water, and the city received numerous calls about injured female ducks being attacked by gangs of drakes. According to Raya, the high calorie and processed food fed to ducks can lead to significant health problems and aggressive behavior.
Raya said people also called and complained that there was nowhere to sit, and that their kids couldn’t play without stepping in duck mess.
In February, three months before the new signs went up, containers of pamphlets were placed at the parks, which provide information on reasons not to feed the waterfowl.
“I try to convey it’s for their own good,” Raya said about the ducks. “We don’t want to change their life pattern, it’s their pattern of living.”
Stivalet said she understood the reasons for the ban, especially if it’s because the ducks were getting sick. “I understand it, but it stinks,” she said.