By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA — Five months after a law was adopted banning the feeding of wildlife in the village, there is still an overabundance of ducks drawn to the area.
Large flocks of ducks are still found on local streets, and particularly in the Faith Plaza parking lot on Route 9W, where there are sometimes dozens sitting and walking around the lot at one time.
Back in September, the village board adopted a law prohibiting the feeding of wildlife, including waterfowl, in an attempt to discourage the birds from congregating in the village. The ducks were causing property damage and creating a public health concern, village officials said at the time.
Local Law 2-2021, dubbed the “Wildlife Feeding Law for the Village of Ravena,” outlaws the feeding of all wildlife, including waterfowl, with the exception of songbirds. Individuals looking to feed songbirds must do so in a feeder that is elevated at least 4 feet from ground level, according to the law.
The legislation gave law enforcement the ability to first issue a warning, and then an appearance ticket, with fines between $100 and $500 for a first offense.
But five months after the law’s passage, there are still ducks aplenty.
Resident Joy Iafallo raised the issue at the village board’s Jan. 18 meeting, and pointed specifically to the shopping plaza’s parking lot, which draws ducks by the dozens. Management at the Shop ‘N’ Save supermarket has posted signs on the store’s electronic doors asking customers not to feed the animals.
Mayor Bill Misuraca said individuals who provide food for the birds are contributing to the problem.
“If the people didn’t feed them, they would leave,” Misuraca said. “That is the bottom line.”
Village officials have contacted the state to see about relocating the ducks, but were denied, the mayor said.
“We have asked EnCon numerous times,” Misuraca said. “They won’t come and trap them. They say it’s a federal issue.”
EnCon is the law enforcement arm of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Officials also contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that protects endangered species, to no avail.
“Believe me, I don’t like writing laws, but that is the only option,” Misuraca said. “These things (the ducks) are federally protected.”
Deputy Mayor Nancy Warner said she has contacted the Department of Environmental Conservation several times as well.
“They are not interested in coming to rehome them,” Warner said. “They said that they are aware of our law. They said that right now it is an enforcement issue. I have talked to the (police) chief — he has sent the daytime officer to speak with a couple of homes and people who they can identify as feeding them.”
Warner said she has been contacted by people in the community who have seen others feeding the ducks but told them they need to call the police instead so they can enforce the law.
“You need to call the police, maybe snap a picture of the person because just because it is your car doesn’t mean it is you,” Warner advised. “It’s going to take a community effort. The chief is willing to put somebody there sporadically, but of course he can’t just have someone sit there.”
The problem, she added, is that people don’t adhere to the law.
“It all boils down to the people won’t cooperate,” Warner said. “A woman was shopping and told someone to stop feeding them, you are not supposed to be doing that — there is a law — and they said, ‘I don’t care,’ and just kept on doing it. So if anybody has better ideas, please let us know. We are asking people to please, please, please be more cooperative.”
The DEC website states that while people may think they are being kind by feeding the ducks, they are doing them no favors.
Feeding waterfowl causes problems including poor nutrition for the animals, water pollution, delayed migration, overcrowding, spread of disease with birds in close proximity, unnatural behavior and other problems, according to the DEC.
“It would seem that providing food for ducks and geese would make them healthier. However, this is not the case,” according to the DEC. “Waterfowl at artificial feeding sites are often found to suffer from poor nutrition. In natural settings, waterfowl seek and feed on a variety of nutritious foods such as aquatic plants, natural grains and invertebrates. Many of the items commonly used to feed waterfowl (bread, corn, popcorn, etc.) are low in protein and are very poor substitutes for natural foods.”