Apparently in response to recent press about duck activity at Gulfport’s Tomlinson Park, local duck sympathizers, fearing legal repercussions, have returned a raft of Pekin ducks to the pond.
Since the police responded to a June 6 call about a couple removing a duck from Tomlinson Park, the Pekin duck count went from one to seven at press time. The pond also has three “marbled” ducks (brown and white, also called Buffs).
A local duck sympathizer, who asked to remain nameless, said that local families looked after some of the ducks. Here’s what the sympathizer told us:
“Early this year four domesticated ducks showed up at the pond overnight: two Pekins and two Buffs. A few weeks later someone abandoned a Pekin duckling at the pond; this is the one I took home to raise. About a month later another Pekin duck was abandoned. After a day or two, it was adopted by the two older Pekins. This is the duck family everyone fell in love with. About a month later, the male and the duckling were snatched. After the snatching, another baby Pekin appeared. Like the one I rescued, it was attached to people and after about a day a fellow rescuer took it in after seeing it had sores on its feet and signs of sunburn on its back. As for the female Pekin, she took up with the two Buffs. Last week, someone left an adult Pekin at the pond. Then I released the two Pekins I raised, one of which was the rescued duckling. Two days later, three Pekins and a Buff were dropped off at the pond... and that is the current state of affairs at the pond.”
This duck sympathizer is one of at least three home who provide assistance, nourishment and shelter to orphaned, injured or malnourished Pekin ducks.
The duck sympathizer tells the Gabber that the unorganized underground network of duck rescuers takes in orphaned ducks, ducks overtly malnourished, or ducks released into the pond who were not yet old enough to fend for themselves. This unofficial group of duck guardians keeps the ducks safe and well fed until such time as the ducks can survive on their own at the pond.
The source also says that at least one person buys Pekin ducklings and releases them into the pond, and, according to our source, several of these ducks have not fared well on their own. Gulfport’s duck un-network also takes these ducklings into their homes until the ducks can survive outdoors.
In the first week of June, a young duck and one of its parents disappeared from Tomlinson Park, leaving one Pekin duck in the park. On June 6, Gulfport police answered a call about a suspected duck snatching of that duck; police oversaw the safe return of that duck. Two days later, another Pekin duck – this one younger than the two that disappeared the week before – appeared at the park. This duck appeared unable to swim and, people who later saw the duck say, had sores on its feet. That duck disappeared later that day, although duck rescuers say she remains in a secure, undisclosed location.
One duck rescuer says that the two ducks that disappeared the first week of June are still missing from the raft, and the Gabber could not match photos of the missing ducks with any current ducks in Tomlinson Park. The fate of these two ducks remains unknown. The Gabber’s duck source says they do not believe the people accused of duck snatching (who could not be reached for comment) have a history of duck rescuing.
The rescuers have released the majority of the ducks back into the pond, the duck sympathizer says, because in light of recent coverage in the Gabber, they feared the city would charge them with illegally keeping ducks.
Whereas Gulfport changed its laws a few years ago to allow for chicken ownership, it does not allow for duck husbandry.
The duck sympathizer stresses that the duck underground is not an organized movement.
“I don’t know that we’re an organized group,” the source says “we’re just a group of individuals that have compassion for the animals living in the pond.”
Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com.