To: "Penny Drake-Brockman" <>, <>
Subject: mallards
From: "Scott O'Keeffe" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 21:56:30 +1000
Penny Drake-Brockman wrote:

Unfortunately, that is the way it has to be done - kept quiet until
after the event and let the media storm pass over, which it does.

Then wait for the next influx of released fluffy ducklings from a
public that has got tired of them mucking up their nice clean patio
or muddying the neatly mown grass.

Another idea would be to only have neutered ducks on the ponds
.......... how does one neuter a duck?  you can't rely on the hybrids
being neuter.  It would give the kids something to feed all that
ghastly white bread to and satisfy those who do get a kick from
feeding the birds, although that has further problems when there is
too much thrown out, souring the water, etc. etc. etc.  -  and
encouraging the pigeons.

Seriously though the best solution is to get councils on side and
remove the ferals surreptitiously.

Penny Drake-Brockman, Examination Recitals Co-ordinator, Sydney
Conservatorium of Music.
Tel: 02 9351 1254.
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As a person who works in feral animal control, particularly in more settled
areas, I must disagree that the "surreptitious" approach is a good one.  It
is far better to have a robust debate at the outset, and use this as an
opportunity to educate people.  Improved public understanding of the issues
is the key to solving these kinds of problems in the long term.  Just ask
the Rangers on Fraser Island.  People will always find out about animal
control work, and they will always want to know the facts, have a say, or be
provided with an opportunity to avoid genuine discussion and 'find the bad
guys'.  If you go about the work surreptitiously, you will be found out. All
that you will have succeeded in doing is giving people the opportunity to
avoid intelligent discussion while they set about finding the bad guys or
uncovering imaginary conspiracies.  Sneaking around in your work makes it
appear as if you really are up to no good. If some one sees you, as they
eventually must, it is pretty difficult to argue that there was really
nothing to hide. Yes, I know, (from much personal experience) debate and
discussion is at times painfully slow. But I also know that cutting this
particular corner always ends up costing extra time, good will, and the
opportunity to find lasting solutions.  If exotic ducks are a problem,
people need to know why.  Although I might feel a great deal of frustration
when members of the 'uninformed' public demand that the 'poor mallards' be
protected, I could also take heart from the fact that the sentiment, though
misdirected, demonstrates some good will towards living creatures.  Without
that concern, there is no starting point for discusion about conservation.
If the conservation perspective is put well enough, those crying out 'save
the ducks' will continue to do so, but they will hopefully support efforts
to prevent the decline of native species.

A useful technique to start the debate on a constructive course?  Why not
ask those who want to protect the mallards how they would solve the PB Duck
problem?  Inviting those you disagree with to suggest answers to problems
casts them in the role of problem solver rather than whinger.  I'm not
claiming this is a panacea, or that it will get rid of all acrimony.  It is
just better than the alternatives.

Scott O'Keeffe

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