Carmel City Council bans feeding ducks on city property

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Feeding ducks or geese on Carmel city property could now cost you $100.

That’s because the Carmel City Council voted unanimously Aug. 15 to suspend the rules and immediately approve an ordinance that prohibits feeding waterfowl on city-owned property, such as the Carmel Veterans Memorial reflecting pool and the Japanese garden. Fines could go up to $100 for even a first offense.

City Councilor Sue Finkam, one of the sponsors, said the ordinance is necessary because the city has spent more than $25,000 since the memorial pool reopened last year to clean up feathers in the water, filter and skim the water for waste and powerwash the sidewalks.

“It is significant, it is disgusting, and it’s a health hazard,” she said. “And it’s disrespectful to the veterans who we are honoring with the reflecting pool.”

City Councilor Jeff Worrell, another sponsor, noted that Indiana’s Dept. of Natural Resources and the local chapter of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals both endorsed this policy as the most humane way to deal with the waterfowl nesting in these areas.

Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider, who voted for the ordinance, raised some concerns, especially about whether it should apply to all city property.

“I understand we’re spending money, but fundamentally I have a problem with the government telling kids they can’t throw bread to ducks or geese,” he said.

He also questioned whether this policy would fix the problem.

“I don’t think bread is the issue,” he said. “Water is the issue.”

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the policy is in the animals’ best interest.

“It’s good practice,” he said. “Wild animals aren’t supposed to be fed. It makes it so they can’t fend for themselves. It’s not good for people or the animals.”

City Attorney Doug Haney said he doesn’t anticipate fining little kids or their parents $100 for an innocent toss of bread. He said the ordinance is targeted more toward repeat offenders.

“It’s more about adults with lots of bread every day,” he said.

Brainard said there are some private individuals who act as if they are caretakers of the ducks and geese and regularly come out with lots of bread on a regular basis.

“It involves certain individuals who have ignored repeated requests and reasonable discussion,” Worrell said.

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2 Comments

  1. “It is significant, it is disgusting, and it’s a health hazard” Those are good points.

    Who would have thought that a big pool would attract ducks? People feed ducks? Who could foresee that. Obviously just more bad luck. Can’t expect our leaders to critically analyze the actions they take before they take them. That is unreasonable.

    There are unintended consequences when you make big investments of Tax dollars on nonessential community enhancements. They should be well thought out. Often they are not.

    The Memorial pool is one of those ideas that looks good on paper, makes for great artist renderings of what beauty it will bring and then requires extreme, unexpected maintenance. I do think it is beautiful when it looks nice. That is not generally the situation. The ducks are only the latest expense and one of the lowest in the history of the reflecting pool.

    This is what the Memorial looked like in May 2015. Those darn ducks darn near destroyed the concrete edging. Look what they did to the bottom. Just ducky.

    All digs aside if there are people taking loaves of bread to the ducks that is a problem and needs to be dealt with.

  2. They are just protecting their proud investment. Makes sense. Come to think of it…..isn’t that what folks are trying to do when the city builds commercial developments up against residential? People are just trying to protect their investments, but the city ignores them then. The city says its for the “public” good. Hey, I like ducks myself. Gives my Lab something to chase! Sounds to me like the city and their contractor need to test the waterfowl’s DNA so they can trace them, like they want to do with their dog park.

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