Could feeding ducks harm the SA River?

Scientists requesting residents stop feeding ducks

SAN ANTONIO – Most people have done it in their lifetime: fed ducks a few bread crumbs or a small portion of their lunch. But now, the San Antonio River Authority is asking residents to stop.

"We all enjoy feeding the ducks, but it's not good for them," said Rebecca Reeves, superintendent of Environmental Sciences at the SARA.

That's niether good for the ducks, or people, as it turns out. According to Reeves, ducks are designed to eat insects and plants. Feeding them increases aggressiveness, but more importantly, affects their numbers. 

"You would never see that many ducks living together, that closely," said Reeves, referring to areas popular for feeding ducks, like Brackenridge Park. "We've just got too many ducks in concentrated areas and as a consequence, it's hurting the ecology of the river."

High concentrations of ducks equal large amounts of waste. That is evident along some of the sidewalks at Brackenridge Park, near the headwaters of the San Antonio River. The waste, often after it rains, is washed into the river. As a result, E-Coli numbers spike, indicating that harmful bacteria has flowed into the San Antonio River.

Meanwhile, River Walk restaurants, too, are being asked to be vigilant. Reeves called on restaurants to clear tables quickly after patrons leave and to avoid allowing food or crumbs to fall to the ground.

While scientists have known this information for some time, this request follows a push by the SARA and Bexar County to clean up the river. Other programs are underway to improve water quality along the river.

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