California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Public Park Ponds and Semi-Domestic Waterfowl

In most cases, ducks and geese found at City and County parks are feral domestic birds. Many of them have been dumped by their owners who illegally released these birds. CDFW and the USFWS have no jurisdiction over the semi-domestic and hybrid birds.

The birds are at risk of contracting avian influenza as they interact with wild birds regularly. Here are park pond bird facts:

  • Most County/City park ducks and geese are not wild birds. They are semi-domestic:
    • Domestic fowl illegally abandoned by owners that have gone feral
    • Hybrids of domestic/wild matings
  • Concentration of these birds in parks increases chance of avian disease outbreak and human exposure
  • County/City have jurisdiction over these flocks

Park pond visitors should be careful around feral or semi-domestic birds for a variety of reasons. In the case of avian influenza, there are several specific steps visitors can take to be safe and prevent disease infection:

  • Avoid sick and dead birds
  • Avoid bird feces and touching pond water
  • Avoid picking up feathers
  • Avoid picnicking near the birds
  • Wash hands thoroughly with a sanitizing agent before eating, drinking, or smoking
  • Wash hands, clothes and shoes soiled with bird feces

Minimizing AI among park fowl

Park and facility managers have several options for managing the feral and semi-domestic flocks. To reduce populations and improve overall health of the pond, the birds and the visitors to the park, the following can be used.

  • Control the population
    • Limit egg production
    • Addle eggs to reduce offspring
  • Discourage feeding of the birds
    • Feeding leads to dependency on humans
    • Artificially increases the population causing overcrowding
  • Post signs warning that it is illegal to abandon fowl
  • Capture and remove excess fowl