Duck welfare fears resurface as bread is thrown into Havering lakes

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 April 2015 | UPDATED: 08:08 09 April 2015

Bread in Raphael Park

Bread in Raphael Park


Concerns for the welfare of the borough’s ducks have been raised once again after large amounts of bread were seen floating in a park lake over the four-day bank holiday weekend.

Bread in rubbish in Raphael's ParkBread in rubbish in Raphael's Park

The popular pastime of throwing bread to waterfowl has been cited as a cause of deteriorating health and visitors are being asked to promote a healthier diet.

In these pictures, taken by Teresa Dury in Raphael Park, Romford, large amounts of bread along with other rubbish can be seen floating on the top of the lake,

As the bread becomes mouldy, bacteria forms. It can have fatal consequences for ducks due to botulism – a disease that affects the nervous system.

In 2013 extreme hot weather and a lack of rainfall resulted in catastrophic consequences and hundreds of bird deaths were reported.

Havering Council's posterHavering Council's poster

The problem was raised again last summer.

In June, Tom and Janer Waller said that, together with other volunteers from the Harrow Lodge Park’s conservation group, they had pulled more than 20 dying birds from the lake.

Six-year-old Deanna Lewis was so moved by the coverage that she took the Recorder’s article to Raphael Park and spoke to visitors about keeping the birds healthy by feeding them from a list of approved foods such as lettuce, grains, grapes and duck pellets.

Havering Council has said it will soon be putting signs up around the borough’s lakes and ponds to reinforce this message.

Simon Parkinson, head of culture and leisure at Havering Council, said: “White bread isn’t the best food to feed ducks.

“They would be happier and healthier with a mix of safe greens like lettuce and spinach, uncooked plain rice and oats.

“Bread also clogs up ponds and can create more algae.”

The authority, which manages both parks, is dredging the lake in Harrow Lodge Park to prevent the build up of toxins, which have proved fatal to wild-fowl.

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