The great duck debate continues

# I SEE from your paper that the small group of unhappy people from Soham and Ely have convinced our environmental health department that the Muscovy duck population is a health and traffic hazard and that the solution to the problem is to suffocate as ma

# I SEE from your paper that the small group of unhappy people from Soham and Ely have convinced our environmental health department that the Muscovy duck population is a health and traffic hazard and that the solution to the problem is to suffocate as many of the unknown chicks as possible.

What kind of lives to these people lead who can't wait 10 or 20 seconds while a duck crosses the road? Will we kill the children of the brainless human beings who jam their vehicles underneath the railway bridge and hold us up for hours? You can almost see the bigotry and intolerance oozing out of their words.

As well as that there is the rat infestation brought on by the ducks and their bread. But it is not the ducks that bring the bread, it is people. Despite the notices, people continue to throw copious amounts of bread to the ducks. I visit the river most weekends with my wife and grandchildren and we feed the ducks with grain purchased in The Maltings. I have given up trying to explain the negatives of feeding bread to the ducks as you only get abused.

Instead of sending out death squads to kill the unborn chicks our money would be better spent sending the same squads to educate the people who feed bread to the ducks.

When the Muscovy duck is gone people will feed bread to the mallards, the geese, the swans and so on until we have eradicated every other species.


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High Barns,


# SURE sign that the tourist season is just around the corner. East Cambridgeshire District Council goes into overdrive to create the picture postcard image of a quiet village in the Fens.

They hope that as the day trippers stroll down Market Street they won't notice grotty closed-up shops and they pray no lout on a skateboard will wallop them as they attempt to cross the street.

With careful manoeuvring and strategically placed signs an out-of-towner can make it to the cathedral avoiding the litter and dog mess - but the riverfront, now that's a real problem.

Nothing for it - the annual duck kill, sorry cull, is the only way. They must leave one or two for people to ooh and aah at - all part of the idyllic postcard image that they are desperate to convince exists here.

If only something could be done about the oil slicks from visiting boats, discarded bottles and cans from the pubs and remnants from

picnics in Jubilee Gardens.

In my opinion the problem is not duck-related but people-generated, which brings me to this question: Why live by a river if you object to wildlife which have a natural right to be there especially if the flat you now occupy was built at the expense of their natural habitat?


Tennyson Place,


# POOR Muscovy ducks! They do seem to have offended a minority of Ely residents and the environmental health officers. They are, in fact, part and parcel of the attractive Ely waterfront and are much appreciated by the majority of residents of the city and also by many visitors to the city.

The remarks attributed to the environmental health officers do not really bear close scrutiny and have little connection with the real situation. My frequent visits to the riverside seem to show a decrease in the general wildfowl population - certainly not the four-fold increase claimed by the officers.

One wonders who is doing the complaining.

Presumably those who live close to the waterfront, many of whom are newcomers to Ely. Is it that the council officers are kowtowing to a few rather foolish residents who have not worked out that living in a riverside environment means sharing that environment with Muscovy ducks, Canada geese, mallards, swans etc? After all, they were there first and it is their natural environment.

I wonder why the Muscovy ducks have been singled out as the principal culprits. My own observations seem to indicate that the Canada geese are also pretty adept at making a mess. Perhaps they are more difficult to catch and cull than the almost domesticated Muscovy ducks.

A 'hazard for road users' opine the wise men of the council. From my experience this means that a few vehicles have to slow down occasionally or even stop! Of course we all know that this will have a dramatic effect on traffic flow around Annesdale, Quayside, Broad Street etc, and will bring the city of Ely to a grid-locked halt!

'We all love to see the ducks in Ely' says his Liz Knox, principal environmental health officer. She also says: 'People are getting fed up' and that 'complaints have increased two or three-fold this year'. It is often said that public servants can hold two contradictory ideas simultaneously, but I don't need to labour that point! So we all love to see the ducks but we are going to kill the embryonic chicks. How odd!

'We now have to bring the duck population down to a manageable size', says Claire Finlayson. What is a 'manageable size', I ask? 200, 100, 50 - none? May I humbly suggest that the environmental health officers and council officers do a little joined-up thinking? What is the 'necessary paperwork' that allows the council to go ahead with the draconian culling of the ducks, a culling, I suspect, opposed by a majority of Elians.

If the council wishes to cull the Muscovy ducks for making a mess around the waterfront, perhaps it might take this idea to its illogical extreme. Dog owners who allow their animals to foul the pavements, members of the public who leave their chewing gum and cigarette ends to disfigure the streets - how about 'culling them'?


Chelmer Way


# HAVE some people at the district council in Ely got nothing better to do than to talk about ducks?

What about a new car park? Leave the ducks alone they have not hurt anyone or caused an accident. Motorists should give way to all web-footed birds because that is the law.

Most people love to see a duck and ducklings waddling through our streets. The few people who are complaining about our ducks should go and live somewhere else.

No-one mentioned the swans, they are bigger birds and eat more, and deposit more on the ground. Don't say 'swans belong to the Queen', that is a big myth as only certain swans in London are protected. These are wild birds.

I urge the people of Ely to not report the ducks nests in your gardens as I think to destroy the nests or eggs is border line with the law to destroy wild birds eggs, and you can not say they are tame, as they come and go as they please.

I am strongly against any cull, as nature will sort things out in time. Ely should be promoting the ducks and saying 'come to Ely and feed our ducks, and walk our riverside at the same time'.


18 Ely Road

Little Downham