Commission responds to community concerns about Sportsman Lake ducks

A sign at Sportsman Lake Park advertises fish and duck food available for purchase in the park’s concession stand (Tiffany McKoy)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Recently, parkgoers have raised concerns about the ducks and the food available for purchase for them at Sportsman Lake Park. Worries are that the food lacks proper nutritional value and is having negative effects on the animals.

Concerns have been brought to Cullman County Parks and Recreation and the Cullman County Commission. In a post on its Facebook page on Thursday, May 18, the commission said:

We are so fortunate to have Sportsman’s Lake (sic) in Cullman. It is a wonderful park for families to enjoy with walking trails, playground equipment, putt-putt golf, and train rides. In addition, the park has a beautiful lake that ducks choose to visit. The ducks are not housed at Sportsman’s (sic) Lake and are free to come and go as they have for decades.

The County Commission was contacted regarding concerns about the food for sale at the concession stand for the ducks. The Commission has listened to the concerns and taken further steps to determine whether the food available at the concession stand is safe for the ducks.

The following were consulted regarding the food:

Seth Maddox – migratory bird expert with Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Dr. Tony Frazier – Alabama State Veterinarian

The Alabama Department of Agriculture

All three agree that the food at the concession stand is safe because the birds are not captive and are free to eat insects and plant material available in the area.

If you do not want to purchase the duck food available at the concession stand, you may bring food for the ducks, but please do not feed the ducks bread. Further, if you wish to remove the ducks, Dr. Frazier has advised that YOU MUST check with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and comply with all regulations that may apply.

This post did not sit well with online commenters.

Lauren Ashley Royster commented: Lauren Ashley Royster

Why don’t you lock the gates to the park at dark like you’re supposed to to protect the ducks from abuse? There have been 2 recent instances of people entering the park when it’s supposed to be locked and killing and mutilating the ducks.

I would hope the people that rescued and cared for those injured ducks didn’t bother contacting whatever “authorities” for approval before helping the ducks that have to be continually reached from sportsman lake because they’re so thoroughly neglected.

Selene Hagan commented:

Cullman County Commission you all have been misinformed.

The majority of the ducks that are at your lake have traveled to your location by car from the irresponsible owners that have dumped these farm animals. They did not come on their own. There is a HUGE difference in a wild duck and a domesticated duck.

Now about the feed, you all offer inappropriate food for folks to purchase and feed the ducks. Catfish feed is for catfish. Dog food is for dogs. Cat food is for cats. DUCK food is for DUCKS. Feed them the right food!

There aren’t enough people buying food on a daily basis to even feed these ducks enough to survive. Did you know that most domesticated ducks require, at minimum, 1/2 lb of feed per day, per duck? If the lake cared about these ducks, they would feed them daily as any responsible owner would and not leave it up to the folks that bare no responsibility. But having already admitted that these ducks don’t belong to the lake, then I can see why the lake doesn’t care about their nutritional requirements! It’s all about the lake ornaments to attract others to come spend money at your park. And who cares if the lake ornaments need food?


Commented Kimberly Love:

They gave the name of their experts, I’m sure you can locate a phone number and contact or visit them if these concerns are not being addressed. We all know comments here are just a complaining session and probably are ignored. JS

The Tribune reached out to Cullman County Parks and Recreation Director Doug Davenport, who declined to comment and referred us to Cullman County Attorney Emily Niezer Johnston, who stated, “I just want to make it clear that we have consulted every expert that we know to consult and they have confirmed that the food the ducks are being given is safe. We have truly gone the extra mile and we truly care.”

Johnston continued, “We listened to the concerns, and we called the people who could best advise. We want to make sure the food is safe and they’re telling us that it’s safe. Seth Maddox is the migratory bird expert, and in his statement he was commenting on the domestic ducks as well.”

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