RIVERHEAD, Long Island (PIX11) — Spring is here which also means an increase in abandoned ducklings. An organization on Long Island has rescued some this last week in Queens and Brooklyn and shares a warning about releasing these domestic animals into the wild.
John Di Leonardo is an anthrozoologist and president of LION, Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, and says they rescued two ducklings found on a Brooklyn street corner abandoned in a cardboard box.
“If we didn’t rescue these animals, they would be dead right now, so we are reminding people that the adage ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’ applies to all animals,” Di Leonardo said.
He rehabilitates the birds at a shelter in Riverhead and says people give away these animals along with little chicks and bunnies as pets for the Easter holiday or use them for photoshoots, but then they’re let go.
“You can’t release these animals to the wild,” Di Leonardo added. “They can’t survive. They have tiny wings, they have large bodies, they don’t have any camouflage, they can’t fly, and they can’t migrate.”
He says Pekin ducks are domestic by nature and are an entirely different breed than wild ducks. They can’t search for food adequately and don’t have the skills or natural ability to survive in the wild.
“These animals are literally sitting ducks if you abandon them which is a crime in New York State,” Di Leonardo said.
Ducks are also illegal to have as pets in New York City, but if you live outside the city, prepare for a 10-year commitment as you would with a dog or cat.
The USDA also announced avian flu was detected in New York State and the surrounding area, so many organizations are not taking in domestic fowl – which is why his work now is even more important.
LION rescues roughly 600 domestic fowl in any given year, so if you see any domestic birds in the wild, you can contact his organization to help.