Feeding the ducks in park could mean £100 fine

Feeding the ducks
Feeding the ducks

A council could fine residents for feeding the ducks in a park, claiming that the birds are “probably being killed” by people’s generosity.

Harrow Council, in north-west London, wants to expand a public space protection order (PSPO) - which prevents people feeding birds in the town centre - to the Pinner Memorial Park.

It would enable the authority to issue £100 fines, with the penalty increasing to £1,000 if it is not paid and ends up in court.

Paul Osborne, the council leader, said feeding ducks bread could have fatal consequences because it fills their stomachs without providing any nourishment.

At a recent council meeting, Mr Osborne said: “If you were feeding the ducks with bread or other similar foods, whilst you may have fond memories of it, you are probably actually killing some of the ducks.”

He added that uneaten bread could cause a “public health nuisance” by contaminating pond water and attracting pigeons.

According to the local authority website, the ducks should seek out “food in their environment” instead of bread, living off pondweeds, fish eggs, molluscs and insects.

The Canal and River Trust also advises against feeding bread to ducks, noting that it does not have much nutritional value and could cause them to starve. It suggests that passers-by use other foods, including sweetcorn, lettuce, peas, oats and rice.

‘Concerned and somewhat surprised’

However Hugh Brown, a “concerned” Harrow resident, said families would lose the “simple joy” of taking their children to feed the ducks.

“It’s a shame it can’t be a bit more nuanced and give that discretion to people feeding real duck food,” he said.

“Many parents and grandparents will have experienced the simple joy of taking the kids to feed the ducks. I was concerned and somewhat surprised to see that the council’s PSPO would prohibit this.”

Mr Osborne said the council would consider all responses to a public consultation before making its final recommendation to the authority’s cabinet.

According to the BBC, 44 people in the borough of Harrow were issued with fines for breaking bird-feeding laws last year.

A Harrow Council spokesman said: “We recently consulted on a new PSPO, designed to tackle neighbourhood nuisance issues and protect our public spaces.

“There are particular issues with duck feeding in our parks. Not only can this be harmful to ducks and contaminate the water, it can also attract vermin.

“This is why we included it in our PSPO consultation, and we look forward to reviewing local responses before taking a final decision.”