LEWISBURG — The U.S. Department of Agriculture started working with a duck advocacy group to relocate domestic waterfowl at the Fairground Road Park in East Buffalo Township.
Dawn Moore, the founder of Save the Geese Bloomsburg; anthrozoologist and wildlife rehabilitator John Di Leonardo, the president and executive director of Humane Long Island & Duck Defenders; and Julianna Di Leonardo joined USDA’s Kyle Van Why and Alec Smith and East Buffalo Township Manager Jolene Helwig in capturing the animals. Wild ducks were swabbed to test for diseases and released while domestic ducks were captured and quarantined in preparation for a new home.
“It’s gone really well,” said Moore. “I was nervous at the start, but Kyle was nice, kind and caring. He really wanted to save the ducks. Hopefully, we can continue working with him. I’m really excited about this.”
Officials in East Buffalo Township in November announced the removal of ducks from the township park, prompting a response from residents and duck enthusiasts. The USDA program conducts avian influenza sampling of wild birds annually. East Buffalo Township has been a capture site since about 2015.
On Friday, USDA used a net launcher to capture at least 20 wild ducks. Those ducks were swabbed and will be tested for diseases, and then released back into the wild, Moore said.
John Di Leonardo said eight domestic ducks were captured on Friday and taken to an outside foster home for two weeks. After the two-week quarantine, the ducks will be adopted out.
“During these two weeks, we’ll find good homes for them,” said Moore.
Julianna Di Leonardo said adoptive homes will need to be within code for keeping ducks and be willing and able to provide proper food, an area for swimming, predator-proof/climate-proof night-time shelter, and access to veterinary care. Homes will also be required to sign contracts attesting that they will not breed, sell, or consume the ducks for any purpose. Those interested in applying are encouraged to contact DuckDefenders@humanelongisland.org.
The Di Leonardos and Moore were back out on Saturday in attempts to capture more domestic ducks by hand at Fairground Road Park and the nearby Lewisburg Area Recreation Park East. They were not successful in capturing any ducks on Saturday.
“They saw us take a lot of their friends yesterday,” said John Di Leonardo. “They’re a bit wily today. It should be easy to win back their trust.”
While the USDA used a net to capture ducks, Di Leonardo prefers capturing by hand. The group used food to coax the birds closer instead.
The Di Leonardos will return home to New York, but Moore said she and another person will be back to continue feeding and gaining the animals’ trust back.
John Di Leonardo said domestic ducks don’t have the same foraging skills as wild ducks and will often starve in the wild. All domestic ducks captured on Friday were underweight.
Duck Defenders rescues nearly 1,200 ducks a year, he said.
The township ordinance does not allow for residents in residential or commercial zones to have ducks in East Buffalo Township.