I was listening to a Melbourne community radio station, 3RRR, this morning
when one of the announcers, Kate Langbroek (also a sometime member of the TV
show on 10 - The Panel) confessed to dumping her pet duck over the fence at
the Botanic Gardens. From the steady supply of barnyard ducks and geese at
these kind of places it's clearly a common practice, but as Kate was silly
enough to confess on air, I thought I'd let her know why it was a stupid
thing to do. See attached letter.
Fitzroy North, Victoria, Australia
58 Holden Street
Fitzroy North 3068
26 August 1998
25 Victoria Street
I've been waking up to the Breakfasters for about 15 years now, so I'm used
to hearing all kinds of stuff discussed on air. Your remarks about your
ex-pet duck being hoisted over the fence at the Botanic Gardens woke me up a
bit faster this morning than usual.
Before you dismiss me as an animal liberationist, let's get that one out of
the way early. I'm not overly concerned about the welfare of your duck,
because it probably had a very pleasant existence in the gardens (at least
for a while). My concern is about your thoughtless solution to a problem
that you created in the first place.
>From your previous descriptions, the duck you released was probably a
domestic breed of a species called the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchus).
Mallards are native to various parts of Asia, Europe and North America.
Here in Australia and elsewhere in the western Pacific, we have a closely
related species called the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosus). When
Mallards get loose in this area, they shag every Pacific Black Duck in
sight. The result is in New Zealand that the Pacific Black Duck as a
species in its own right is being obliterated by a flood of MallardXPacific
Black Duck hybrids. In many metropolitan and provincial areas of Australia,
the same thing is happening. The source of most of these feral Mallards is
the same - people like you decide they've had enough of their demanding pets
(not so 'cute' after they mature), and dump them at the local lake/bird
sanctuary/etc. This is on a par with dumping cats and kittens in the bush -
some survive to become feral and eat their way through the local fauna.
Mallards are shagging their way through the local Pacific Black Duck
population. Different method - similar result - local extinction of a
The kindest thing you could have done with your pet duck once you were
through with it would have been to turn it into Peking Duck - the local
population of Pacific Black Ducks might have fared better if you and others
had. Ironically, it might have ended up on someone's plate anyhow, as
Mallards and Mallard-hybrids are usually rounded up and removed from the
various places where people tend to abandon them, thereby shifting the cost
and responsibility to the community - well done.
Ex RRR subscriber 28071
Cc: Department of Natural Resources & Environment
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