Public Gardens says ducks need a carb-free diet

The actions of some animal lovers at the Halifax Public gardens are ruffling feathers.

It seems more people are feeding the ducks and goose at the gardens, and after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean their pond, the people who run the Public Gardens are pleading with people to keep their donuts to themselves.

Diana, the seven-year-old goose who lives at the Public Gardens is supposed to be on a diet and get fed only by staff.

But people have been slipping her popcorn, muffins – even donuts.

“That bird has had way too many of those donuts!” said one passerby.

Heidi Boutilier is a horticulture supervisor who works at the gardens.

“It‘s not good for them, it‘s not good for their digestive system,” she said.

The city says they‘re seeing an increase of people feeding the ducks — and Diana — and want to remind everyone that the extra carbs are bad for them and create an additional problem.

“The more we eat the more we poop,” says Boutilier with a chuckle.

Those extra carbs turn into an increase of duck discharge,

which, over the years, has done a number on the garden‘s pond.

“It was actually drained, and it was drained in order to remove many years of sediment,” said Erin DiCarlo, a senior communications advisor with the City of Halifax.“The sediment is a combination of things including animal waste, plant litter and other organic materials.”

The pond was drained in March and more than 10 years of duck dung was dug up — at a cost of almost $400,000.

“We‘ve brought the pond back to where we‘d like it to stay for many more decades if possible,” Boutilier said.

Visitors to the park seem to understand the problem and be willing to cooperate with the request to not feed the animals.

“You wouldn‘t go to a zoo and throw food in there,” says Alyssa Mattie. “This is kind of the same, they‘re just walking closer to us.”

One tourist from Wisconsin who was visiting the Public Gardens for the first time said it’s a “gorgeous park” and staff should be able to make rules to keep it that way

“We have signs up in all our parks about not feeding our ducks bread — especially bread — because it blows up in their stomachs,” she said.

Feeding the fowl has been outlawed since 2009 and carries a fine of $352.50.

The city says they don‘t issue fines often for this –  but ask that the ducks and Diana  be respected — and maintain  a healthy diet.

With files from Laura Brown.