Four Cayuga ducks

In early summer of this year, someone dumped four Cayuga ducks off at Packer Pond. A resident who lives near the pond saw them and researched them online. She discovered that they were domestic, flightless ducks that were not capable of surviving in the wild. Within a short time one of the ducks disappeared.

Concerned, the Sayre resident contacted Cornell to see what could be done for the three remaining ducks, and was directed to Animal Farm Sanctuary, located outside of Watkins Glen. The people at the sanctuary acknowledged that these ducks needed to be in a protected environment and agreed to take them. But before they could make the trip to Sayre a second duck disappeared.

Their initial attempt to capture the two remaining ducks was unsuccessful, and the resident was told that before they would come back with more extensive equipment to capture the ducks, they wanted Sayre Council approval and perhaps police on scene in case their efforts drew a crowd. This resident’s approach to Sayre Council was met with resistance. She was told that people thought the ducks were “cute” and Council wanted to keep them at the pond.

When the resident insisted that the ducks would not be able to find food once the pond froze, she was told that someone who has Cayuga ducks was willing to take them for the winter and then return them to the pond in the spring.

Then one of the two remaining ducks showed signs of an injury to its foot, and the Sayre resident approached Council at their regular meeting to implore them to release the ducks to Animal Farm Sanctuary, which has a hospital facility and would care for the injured duck free of charge.

Permission was finally granted, but that night the last remaining healthy duck was attacked by humans and grievously injured. Animal Farm Sanctuary came to Sayre the next morning, captured the duck, and rushed it to Cornell. The vets at Cornell did all they could for the duck, but its bill was so badly damaged that it could not be saved.

In the meantime, Animal Farm Sanctuary returned to Packer Pond and captured the final duck, which had a foot injury probably caused by a snapping turtle. This last duck is now living a well cared for but lonely life at Animal Farm Sanctuary.

I am sharing this sad story because there is an important lesson to be learned here: DO NOT ASSUME THAT DOMESTIC ANIMALS CAN TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES OUTSIDE OF A PROTECTED ENVIRONMENT. They can’t. Those of you who find you no longer want your pets, PLEASE make an attempt to find another home for them, or contact a sanctuary. These animals almost always end up dying horrible deaths either from starvation, disease, or predation.

Marilyn Palmer