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Feeding fouls fowls

Published: Sat, August 20, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.



Mill Creek MetroParks staff recently erected several “Do Not Feed” signs at the Lily Pond. These signs let visitors know that regular feeding of ducks and geese causes pollution, poor nutrition and overcrowding, among other things. It’s also against park policy.


Kirsten Peetz, environmental-land manager for Mill Creek MetroParks, discusses why the park system put up six signs discouraging visitors from feeding the waterfowl at the Lily Pond in Youngstown.

By Elise Franco



Tossing bread to waterfowl sometimes is a common occurrence at ponds and lakes, but Mill Creek MetroParks workers say it’s bad for the animals and against park policy.

Kirsten Peetz, MetroParks environmental-land manager, said about six signs recently were posted at the Lily Pond off McCollum Road to inform visitors that feeding the ducks and geese is not allowed. Peetz said the signs also educate the public as to why.

“When people feed the birds, they become reliant on that food,” she said. “Bread isn’t really an appropriate food for wild birds — especially old, moldy bread.”

Peetz said that when the Canada geese get used to being fed, they begin to gather, and they bring their young, making it a generational problem.

“When geese congregate, they trample; there’s a lot of fecal matter,” she said. “They nest in nearby areas then parade their

ducklings down to the pond because they know people will feed them.”

The Lily Pond, which is the oldest man-made body of water in the MetroParks, has suffered, partially as a result of geese and duck congregation, Peetz said.

The once-clear pond water is now a dingy brown from years of fecal contamination and sediment displacement, and the area around the water’s edge is dirt instead of grass because the waterfowl trample down the vegetation.

Linda Kostka, marketing and development director, said the MetroParks is beginning a project to renovate and clean the Lily Pond and its surroundings.

“We’re going to do some planting and redo some of the drainage and parts of the trail,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to bring the pond back to what it was 30 or 40 years ago.”

Peetz said the pond’s aesthetics are just as important as its environmental quality.

“This area is what people see,” she said. “The water coming down from a spring up the hill is clean, so we’d like to do what we can to clean the pond itself and make it a nice place to bring your family.”

Kostka said the Metro-Parks has approached the Youngstown State University geology department about conducting a survey of the pond to determine the water’s depth and the amount of sediment that sits at the bottom.

“We need to know that information before we can determine how much the renovation will cost,” she said.

Jeffrey Dick, geology department chairman, said he plans to sit down with MetroParks staff in the next month or so to discuss the survey.

Kosta said the problem isn’t isolated to the Lily Pond. “Anywhere you have water, you have the same issues.”

Peetz said she hopes eventually the MetroParks will offer alternatives for those who do enjoy feeding the birds.

“We’re looking into a dispenser or some other option where we could provide the appropriate foods,” she said. “We don’t want to take away that experience, because we realize families do enjoy it.”


1southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Fascinating article: LOL!

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2petemoss90210(10 comments)posted 3 years ago

Finally, people will stop feeding the animals!!! It's about time...even if the ducks and geese did not have as much of an impact on the pond itself.

Losers Never Win might have grown up on a farm, but Geese aren't farm animals and neither are ducks...they can be, certainly, but not the ones at the pakr! The last time I checked, the Lily Pond and Mill Creek Park in Youngstown is not a farm, and should never be!

Families that feed animals in the park are basically killing the WILD animals, and that is a very poor lesson to teach young children. It would be best if these feedings just stopped altogether. Scrap the dispenser idea and ban all feeding outright or else people will still continue to feed the animals whatever they like.

Another valuable lesson that some of these families bring to the ponds and lakes in the park through feeding the animals is litter. Sure, feed the ducks and geese, but now that stupid bread bag is floating in the water or other litter is strewn throughout the parking lot or on the trails.

Should we thank these people for using the park, or make sure they never come back? I'd prefer they never come back, but I don't think that resonates with the park administration. I think the MCP administration have turned their heads in most cases so not to discourage attendance and use of the park! Those "No Feeding" signs have been up for decades, but how many times have you seen a park employee or police officer in the lot while hordes of people feed the animals - and no one is told to stop! Maybe it has happened, but it obviously was never enough to discourage anyone from coming back...

Also, the article says nothing about paying the YSU Geology Department to determine the water depth and amount of sediment in the pond. The YSU Geology Department won't be doing the dredging of the pond or anything like that. Likely, you will get FREE consultation by a YSU professor and student that can do a research project based on the proposed work, which is some simple work, but practical experience for the student!

I am very happy to see some action being taken, but as I said before, the dispensers are a horrible idea - BAN all feeding. It's either all or nothing. If you allow some feeding with nutritional pellets, you still get the geese and ducks (which doesn't make sense if the plan is to clean up the area) and people will still bring bread because they won't want to pay for the pellets.

I live in Youngstown, and want to improve the water quality and surroundings in Mill Creek Park for the benefit of the park and the visitors who come to the park and respect the natural surroundings!

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