illustration by Millie Holderread

Protest Death Trap for Ducklings

A picturesque 3-foot deep lagoon in the middle of Marina Village, a housing community in Alameda, California, is a mother duck's worst nightmare. The 4.5-acre lagoon is home to hundreds of ducks. Its edge is a straight one-foot drop down to the water. Baby ducklings, unable to fly, cannot get out of the water. When their mothers go on shore and call for their little ones to follow, the ducklings try and try, but cannot escape. Continuously swimming, hundreds of ducklings have developed hypothermia (subnormal body temperature) within an hour because of their thin plumage, and then drowned, since a dam was built 5 years ago. "Every duckling who goes in there eventually gets waterlogged and drowns," states Karen Benzel, a Marina Village resident, wildlife rehabilitator, and head of the Waterfowl Preservation Committee, a group of concerned homeowners at Marina Village.

The dam blocks off the only escape route. Ducklings, who cannot fly until they are 8 weeks old, can't get over the 12-inch wall from water to shore. After a series of meetings with concerned residents, the Marina Village Homeowners Association agreed to place 4 ramps for the birds to climb up on, but these did not solve the problem because they are only 4 inches wide and are at a 45-degree angle from the water, which is too narrow and steep for a duckling.

The installation of simple rock ramps or other duckling-friendly escape routes leading from water to shore would solve the problem. The Waterfowl Preservation Committee has formally requested permission to install the ramps at their own expense, but both the Marina Village management and the Homeowners Association have refused, blaming "predators" and "natural selection" for the drownings.

What Can I Do?

Write a polite letter to:

  • Mr. Rich Noble
    Noble Community Management
    Marina Village
    P.O. Box 1216
    Alameda, CA 94501
    ph: 510/865-3003

  • Mr. Jim Grubb
    President
    Marina Village Homeowners Association
    P.O. Box 1216
    Alameda, CA 94501

Point out that the Waterfowl Preservation Committee is prepared to pay for, construct, and install the ramps. It won't cost the management a cent and it will stop the preventable suffering and death of baby ducks. Ask them please to send you a written reply.

Action Alert from Karen Benzel (510/814-7227).