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Moscovy ducks taken from park following attack

June 20, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Nancy Saunders wasn't even feeding the ducks at City Park Tuesday when one odd-looking duck chased her and bit her in the back of the leg.

City officials are blaming the attack on a Muscovy duck, a black and white bird with a red head that is very different in appearance from the common mallards in the park.

All three of the Muscovy ducks in the park were relocated later that day, said Public Works Manager Doug Stull.

Stull believes the ducks became aggressive because they were protecting their nests.

"They were snapping. I guess they just got a little hypertensive or something," Stull said.

The bite Saunders got was more than a nip. The bite drew blood and her doctor gave her a tetanus shot and a special cream to apply.

"I dearly love City Park, but I'm half afraid to go back there," said Saunders, of 125 Garlinger Ave.

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The Muscovy ducks were new to City Park this year, Stull said.

Because the Muscovy is not a migratory bird like the mallards and Canada geese that populate the park, it's likely someone dropped them off at the park, he said.

The ducks had not caused a problem until recently, he said.

Kathy Rinehart, who works at the concession stand in the park, said the ducks had chased people up on picnic tables and nipped people.

When people complained to her, she told them to report the problem to the city. Rinehart is not a city employee.

The bite Saunders received convinced Stull that the animals should be removed, he said.

Stull said he has been nipped by ducks and hissed at by swans and Canada geese. A swan once even stole an ink pen from his pocket.

"They are wild animals and you should treat them as such," he said.

The Muscovy has been domesticated over the years. People like to eat the ducks as well as their eggs, Stull said.

As for the Muscovy nests in City Park, Stull said the more even-tempered mallards have taken over sitting on the eggs.

When they hatch, "it'll be like the ugly duckling story, I guess," he said.

Rinehart said she thinks the Muscovy adults now live in Rest Haven Cemetery and survived the severe storms that hit the night they were taken there.

Stull could not confirm their location.

The large Muscovy males can weigh 10 to 15 pounds. Most of the females are 5 to 7 pounds but can reach up to 10 pounds, according to information from Oklahoma State University.

Their feet are equipped with strong, sharp claws for grabbing tree branches and roosting, the university said.

They do not swim as much as most ducks because their oil glands are under-developed, it said.

Ducks do not carry rabies, said Becky Sauceda, sanitarian at the Washington County Health Department.

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