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What to do - found duckling & now it's a BIG PROBLEM

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by newtochickies, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. newtochickies

    newtochickies Hatching

    Jun 8, 2011
    First of all, I live in Pennsylvania if that matters for any of the issues involved here. I know a family that found a duckling maybe a month or so ago. It was blown into their window well during a violent storm that had produced some tornadoes. It was totally alone when it was found. The people went to all of the nearby farmers and pond-owners who might have had ducks, but no one had any ducklings at the time. Not knowing what else to do, they found out as much as they could about caring for ducks and took very good care of it. Now, when I say "very good," I mean it would have been very good if the duck were to be kept permanently or if it was a puppy or kitten or a "pet." They loved it, cuddled it constantly, introduced it to their cats/dogs, in other words (unintentionally) did everything in their power to ruin it for outdoor life.
    As luck would have it, I found out about the duckling and was just about to start my own flock of chickies. I told them I could put in a pond, or at least keep a wading pool in the chicken run, and I could keep the duck if they needed to find a safe place for it. (By this time they're madly in love with the little duck and very afraid to let it out in the wild.) We're all afraid by this time the duck was far too used to humans to be put out in the wild. They just had to keep the duck long enough for my chickies to be able to fend for themselves against a larger duck.
    As I was doing research into what extra amenities I needed for the duck, I found out that it was illegal to keep a wild mallard. Although I'm sure that the people aren't too familiar with duck breeds and I haven't seen the duck myself, they swear that it definitely is a mallard. I don't know whether it might have been a "domestic" farm mallard duckling that just got blown a very long distance during the storm or if it would be wild. In any case, I don't want to keep the duck if it is illegal to have it. Although I had offered to take it and give it a good home, and now feel very bad about this, going to the expense of getting a permit for one mallard duck (if I can manage to get one - don't know how hard that would be) wasn't something that I had counted on at the time.
    So the question is what happens to the duckling? It was all set for a nice cozy life as a pet. If it's not legal to keep the duck, what's to be done with it? Does anyone know how you would get a permit for a mallard or how expensive it is? Can a duckling that's been cuddled and pampered all it's short life make it in the wild? They were considering releasing it in a public park where there are a ton of ducks that are used to being fed by people (coin-operated corn machines), but the ducks are in the park only seasonally. It looks like legally they're supposed to take it to a wildlife rehabilitator (if it even is a wild mallard), but how do you explain that the duck is used to humans, and cats and dogs for that matter. They can't afford a fine and certainly had no idea that they might be doing something illegal when they saved its life when it was just a couple of days old.
    Any suggestions are welcome. Preferrably legal ones. [​IMG] Thanks.

  2. ChickenDreamer

    ChickenDreamer Songster

    Sep 16, 2008
    Northern Ontario
    A difficult situation indeed, and I don't have any solutions. The problem here is that the duckling is probably imprinted to them by now. Releasing it in the park is definately not an option that would lead to anything other than death. The legal route is to call the wildlife rehabilitator. I don't know how long they've had the duckling but perhaps they could omit the details of that a little. Sorry I'm not more help [​IMG]
  3. newtochickies

    newtochickies Hatching

    Jun 8, 2011
    Ooops, did I leave that out? They've had it at least a month by now. Cuddling it, loving it, and letting it roam the house every day of that month or more. It now pecks at the cats and dogs when they come too close. I like the idea of the wildlife rehabilitator except that I don't think they can get around admitting how long they've had it and how they've raised it. I feel like it's too old to just tell them that they found it "within the last 24 hours" because then the rehabilitator will assume that it knows something about life in the wild. I also feel like it's far too friendly with the other animals to just give it to a rehabilitator and not let them know about that aspect of its life. Thanks for the response, though. Maybe if they're lucky they won't get hit with a fine? At this point, though, they're very concerned for the welfare of the duck and they might go along with that and hope that they don't get into trouble.
  4. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    I'd call a Wildlife Rehab and say they have been 'dumped' a human friendly animal friendly duck...

    then give all known details but make it sound like someone else did it.
  5. cracking up

    cracking up Songster

    Jul 29, 2009
    So Cal
    No one knows for sure it is a mallard. If they went to a refhabber they could just be honest and say they were pretty sure it was domestic until recently and they want to be sure they are doing what is right and legal.
  6. DuckiesAndBees

    DuckiesAndBees Chirping

    Apr 7, 2011
    I would call up a rehabber or the game and parks commission (is that who would deal with this?) or even your local extension office. Tell them your story just as you wrote it here. The worst they can do is say that this is illegal and if they're caught there'll be a fine; however, you are under no obligation to tell them your friend's name, so if this is the case you can just say "thank you" and hang up. I would guess it's more likely that they'll sympathize with you and try to come up with the best solution for the duckling.
  7. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    There are several breeds of duck that look just like mallards. There are even domestic mallards that are legal to keep.

    I would not assume that this is a wild mallard. It doesn't look like a wild mallard to me, living in a house. It looks like a domestic duck. Maybe a mallard, maybe a Welsh Harlequin, maybe a Rouen, maybe an Appleyard.......... It could even be a Runner or a Call, for all you know. They come in mallard color.

  8. Denninmi

    Denninmi Songster

    Jul 26, 2009
    There are several strains of Rouens (for the benefit of the OP, this is the breed of domestic duck that is identical in coloration to the wild mallard, just bigger). Some Rouen strains are larger than others - some are really big, meat production strains, others are smaller strains that aren't much larger than wild mallards.

    Why assume its wild? Its just as possible it is a Rouen.

    Also, what is the temperment? I've raised true wild mallards before, they are skittish and flighty as they age, even if hand reared, compared to a domestic duck. If the bird in question is still acting "tame" when its approaching full maturity, that could be another clue that its not necessarily wild.

  9. clairabean

    clairabean Songster

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    Ducks are tasty. [​IMG]
  10. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Songster

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    I think it would take an expert to tell the difference between a wild mallard and a domestic one, they look very much the same. So, I doubt that anyone passing by is going to know that you have a wild one. So, even though it may not have come to you in a legal way and I don't want to encourage people to take in wild babies as pets, I wouldn't worry too much about getting caught with it. Also, I don't think the wildlife rehabber is going to cause you a lot of problems if you go that route. I would raise it and perhaps let it free range when it's of flying age. Then, if he wants to leave, he can. He may even come back next spring.

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