Too many ducks in Fletcher Lake, between Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach, are becoming a problem and some area residents would like to see the issue addressed.
“The population is getting out of hand and their ecological impact is detrimental to the lake. The ecology in the lake is imbalanced right now and it needs to get back into balance,” said Ocean Grove resident Ann Horan, who brought the issue up at this week’s Neptune Township Committee meeting
Horan, who lives about two blocks from the lake, said the duck population in Fletcher Lake has doubled in recent years and that efforts need to be taken to lower it.
“Residents are feeding them and babies are running all over the place trying to get food. They are not scavenging for their food like normal. And their excrement is everywhere and they stay here year-round,” she said.
Horan, who is also president of the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association, said several dogs have gotten sick from the duck excrement
She said that residents from both Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach appear to be feeding the ducks even though both communities have bans on feeding waterfowl. Signs to this effect are posted at the lake.
“Most people are feeding the ducks bread, which is not good for them, and people should know that they should not be feeding them. They come into yards just waiting to be fed,” she said.
Bread can be fattening to ducks but feeding ducks can also lead to other problems, such as overcrowding, preventing young ducks from learning to forage properly, and leading to disease, including avian botulism and lung infections.
The ducks, which are mostly Pekin ducks, also known as Long Island ducks, are also prodigious egg-layers, which only adds to the problem. They also do not fly – so they do not migrate to other areas.
Neptune Township Committeeman Randy Bishop, who is a liaison to the Fletcher Lake Commission, said township officials will look into the problem and try to find a solution.
“It is clear that something obviously has to be done. It is becoming not only a nuisance but also a health hazard,” he said.
While ducks eggs are harvested in some other states to control the populations, Bishop said he is unsure what actions are permitted by law in New Jersey. And while signs are posted telling residents it is illegal to feed the ducks, he said both police and residents need to be more diligent on enforcement.
“If residents see people feeding the ducks, then they need to call police and let them know so we can help educate the public about the feeding problem,” he said.
Ocean Grove resident Kennedy Buckley said he would also like to see more strict enforcement on the feeding ban.
“Every year there are more and more ducks. It’s hard to walk down the sidewalk without stepping in the excrement,” he said.
Buckley said he estimates there are about 50 ducks on the Ocean Grove side of the lake alone.
“You can see them huddled together in groups at night,” he said.
Buckley also said he has observed people on Main Avenue feeding other birds, like pigeons, and he would like that looked into as well.