Duck dumping at Oquirrh Lake is causing overpopulation and environmental issues

Apr 11, 2024, 6:48 PM | Updated: 6:53 pm

DAYBREAK — A case of duck dumping is highlighting a concerning issue developing in Daybreak: the overpopulation of ducks at Oquirrh Lake.

“When that happens, we get a lot of diseases and bacteria just because of having all those waterfowl in the water,” said Josh Johnson, the Daybreak Community Association communications manager

He said the duck population at Oquirrh Lake has exploded in recent years, in part, because of duck dumping. Last weekend, a group of two adults and six kids were caught on camera getting out of a silver tuck and abandoning four-week-old baby ducks in the lake.

“We want to make sure people know it is illegal to do that in the state of Utah. You cannot bring your ducks to any body of water,” Johnson said.

The group of duck dumpers that visited last weekend.

The group of duck dumpers that visited last weekend. (Courtesy: Josh Johnson)

In an effort to control the duck population, signs have been posted by the Daybreak Association asking residents to not dump or feed the ducks.

“Don’t feed the ducks, the food is likely unhealthy for them and also makes them very dependent on food,” Johnson said.

They’ve also brought in a more natural intimidation factor.

“Niko is a male Harris Hawk. He’s about 17 years old. He was bred in captivity, so he’s been around people this entire life. He flies for lots of education programs and also abetment, which is keeping problem birds out of specific areas,” said Nicholas Harris, an abatement falconer.

Niko the Harris Hawk and Nicholas Harris a abatement falconer.

Niko the Harris Hawk and Nicholas Harris, an abatement falconer. (KSL TV)

For the next six weeks, Harris and Niko will patrol the banks of Oquirrh Lake to keep the ducks in line. This non-lethal approach to solving the overpopulation situation is a good one.

“His goal is to make them (the ducks) uncomfortable, so they don’t want to breed and stay in that spot and also avoid conflict with the residents,” Harris said.

Harris, Niko, and a variety of other big prey began patrolling the lake a few weeks ago, and already, the ducks are responding to their presence. Fewer ducks are approaching the roads and venturing into the neighborhoods.

“Harris Hawks are extremely intelligent; in the wild, they hunt a wide variety of prey, and so when a duck or pidgin or seagull sees this guy coming, he knows that spells trouble,” Harris said.

Niko and Harris patrolling the lake shore line.

Niko and Harris patrolling the lake shoreline. (KSL TV)

While Niko and the other big birds are doing their part to solve the overpopulation issue. Johnson said he needs residents in Daybreak to do their part. He said fewer ducks will mean a healthier duck population, and a healthier lake for residents to enjoy.

“As with any body of water, they’ll come flocking. They come here naturally, and that’s what we need to do here with our falconry program. We need to try to mitigate overcrowding issues and help solve some of those health problems that come with it,” Johnson said. But residents can do their part. Number one, don’t dump your ducks. Find a rescue group that can find a better home for them, and number two, don’t feed the ducks.”

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Duck dumping at Oquirrh Lake is causing overpopulation and environmental issues