Welgevonden Estate residents in Durbanville have lambasted the SPCA and the City for deeming humane the culling of ducks at Welgevonden Estate dam. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Welgevonden Estate residents in Durbanville have lambasted the SPCA and the City for deeming humane the culling of ducks at Welgevonden Estate dam. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape residents watched in horror as City 'drugged and drowned' a flock of ducks

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published May 5, 2021

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Cape Town - Durbanville residents in Welgevonden Estate watched in horror when a flock of ducks was poisoned, drugged and drowned in the local dam, all with the approval of the City of Cape Town and the SPCA.

The City culled, what the residents said was more than 50 ducks at the dam and described the process as “cruel, uncalled for and disturbing” to residents of both Welgevonden and nearby Graanendal.

Resident Candice Johnson said because of the limited resources, the culling process went on for almost three hours while the birds were on the water sedated and their bodies buoyant, their heads fell into the water which caused them to drown as they were inhaling water.

“The SPCA claims the ducks were fed sedatives, except, they were not. We have a vet report from a duck we tried to save where, whatever they were fed, was an unidentifiable toxin.

“The manner in which it was administered meant that native non-invasive birds like the water coot ate the bread that was laced and was taken away as well for no reason even though it posed no threat and was not the supposed subject of the culling.

“This is the same reason our domestic farm grey goose was in danger as she ate some of the bread as well, despite us being told they knew she didn’t eat any because they watched,” she said.

Johnson said they were told that only the Mallards would be taken and tested and brought back. She said, to date, after both cullings, no birds had been brought back.

“On the vet report from the duck we tried to save, it shows she had water in her lungs, proving she was drowning,” she said.

A Graanendal resident said while the City officials were bundling the birds from the water into cardboard boxes; some of the birds who started to gain consciousness struggled to escape from the boxes which were being stuffed so that it would be inevitable for birds to suffocate.

SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abrahams said there were no observations made with regards to any ducks that had drowned or died as a result of the sedation.

“The birds were captured as quickly as possible, placed into boxes, transported to a vehicle and there was no unnecessary delay in dispatching the vehicle to the euthanasia site.

“The vehicle made frequent trips to the nearby location (approximately 7 minutes away by car). A wildlife vet was present at the euthanasia site. During the capture, we did not observe any birds being pushed under the water or being thrown into boxes or being handled inhumanely,” she said.

Abrahams said SPCA however informed the service provider of the need for additional resources to facilitate speedier retrieval of birds from bodies of water in the future.

Mayco Member for Spatial Planning and Environment Marian Nieuwoudt said a total of 38 ducks were removed, consisting of mallards and mallard hybrids. She said the rest of the ducks were taken away to a site to recover from the sedation and were returned to the dam.

“The removal operation followed the best international practice and the City abided by animal welfare legislation to remove the mallard ducks and mallard hybrids. The methods used by the City to control the mallard ducks are specified by international best practice and adheres to animal welfare legislation,” she said.

Nieuwoudt urged residents to refrain from feeding wild ducks as she said this can lead to serious problems including fattening the ducks and overpopulation.

Cape Argus

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