If you’re heading out to visit the ducks this weekend, leave the bread at home...

By Mary Dennehy

A STAPLE day-out for any Irish family is heading to the park to feed the ducks bread.

However, in recent years, park goers have been asked to stop feeding ducks and swans as it can cause a number of nutritional and environmental issues for our feathered friends.


When contacted by The Echo, Mary Maguire, Senior Executive Office with South Dublin County Council said: “South Dublin County Council advises the public not to feed the birds.

“Environmentalists suggest that feeding waterfowl leads to overcrowding, habitat degradation, dietary and nutritional problems, habituation and delayed migration.

“It is argued that although feeding waterfowl may seem gratifying and beneficial, it is often associated with negative consequences for the birds, the environment and public health - and should therefore be discouraged.”

Alongside causing nutritional problems for birds, throwing pans of sliced bread into parks and waterways can have a serious impact on the environment.  

According to the Litter Mugs, a Tallaght-based group of volunteers who clean and care for the environment in-and-around Sean Walsh Park, the dumping of bread “fouls up the water” and is “harmful for ducks and other wildlife”.

John Kiberd, a member of the Litter Mugs, said: "People do genuinely think they are doing the best thing and we've all been feeding the ducks and swans for years. 

"However, we now know that it's not the best thing, especially in the large quantities that are being thrown into local parks, like Sean Walsh Park. 

"Any uneaten bread rots down and creates algael blooms and toxins in the water, which are harmful to all [pond life]."

This week, the Litter Mugs also shared an image of the main lake in Sean Walsh Park, which was full of bread – after the birds had their fill.

Visitors to local parks are being encouraged, especially over the summer holidays when there is an increase in visitors to parks, to visit the ducks but not to feed them – they have plenty within their own natural environment to keep them fed.

For details on the parks located across South Dublin County and the facilitaties they have, visit www.sdcc.ie.

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