‘Don’t feed the ducks’: Havering bread throwers warned

Tom and Janet haven taken in a duck that was ill with Botulism in Harrow Lodge Park.

Tom and Janet haven taken in a duck that was ill with Botulism in Harrow Lodge Park. - Credit: Archant

“Don’t feed the ducks” is the advice Havering Council will give to bread throwers unless they have a healthier alternative after a surge in bird deaths at Harrow Lodge Park’s lake.

Tom and Janet haven taken in a duck that was ill with Botulism in Harrow Lodge Park.

Tom and Janet haven taken in a duck that was ill with Botulism in Harrow Lodge Park. - Credit: Archant

Two “heartbroken” volunteers are fed up of dragging dead ducks and swans from the water and criticised the council over its slow response to prevent more deaths by tackling the botulism blighting the water.

A council spokesman confirmed a long-term solution is being sought and has already installed aerators following last year’s outbreak.

One of the problems attracting the bacteria is mouldy bread, he added.

The council suggests the ducks would be better off with lettuce or spinach.


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Tom Waller, 61, and his wife Janet, 60, together with other volunteers from the park’s conservation group, have pulled out more than 20 dying birds from the lake.

Mr Waller said the animals were dying of a disease that attacks the nervous system due to the build-up of rubbish and silt in the lake.

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He said: “It breaks our hearts when we bring up dead baby ones.

“The council said they have the money to spend but we have seen no sight of it.

“They keep coming up with excuses.”

The council spokesman added: “When there is little or no rainfall for long periods of time, this does cause the bacteria at the bottom of the lake to rise and it affects the wildfowl.

“The lake will be desilted but can only be done after the nesting season and this will greatly improve the situation.

“Another thing that exacerbates the bacteria is mouldy bread, which is what happens when wildfowl don’t eat the bread given to them by visitors. We’ll be doing some work around this to let people know about the healthier alternatives to bread for the wildfowl.

“The council is also working with the Environment Agency and Thames Water on a long-term solution so we’re doing absolutely everything we can.”

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