Rethink purchasing chicks and ducklings

Birds often abandoned in local parks

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Spring is the time of year usually associated with cute animals like bunnies, chicks, and ducklings. Unfortunately, some people purchase chicks and ducklings and underestimate the amount of work needed to care for them and end up trying to get rid of them by dumping them in parks or sumps, said John Di Leonardo, the founder and president of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION).

Di Leonardo noted that the fowl abandonment problem is particularly bad this time of year because this is when chicks and ducklings are sold in stores and when people purchase them as gifts for kids or Easter photo props.

“There’s a big fowl abandonment problem throughout Long Island, but Islip is particularly bad.”

LION rescues domestic roosters, and waterfowl such as geese and domestic ducks all year round, but especially after the spring season. In the spring, that’s when people are selling the chicks and ducklings in the store. Di Leonardo also noted that because chicks and ducklings sold in stores are domestic, they cannot survive when they are left in parks.

“They have tiny wings and large bodies,” Di Leonardo said. “They’re bred for the meat industry. They don’t have the camouflage or the natural instincts that the wild birds have.”

LION receives many calls this time of year from town shelters, private shelters, and wildlife organizations about these fowl. Di Leonardo noted that while these organizations do amazing work, they do not rehabilitate the fowl because they cannot be released back into the wild. So, LION will take the birds, rehabilitate them, and find homes for them. Many of the fowl go to areas off of Long Island because many municipalities actually have codes that prevent people from getting the animals in the first place. LION currently has a small shelter in Riverhead with a maximum capacity of about 40 birds, and Di Leonardo said there is always a need for adopters. The organization is hoping to expand in the next year or so to a larger property that is  open to the public.

“We’re encouraging people [who] are thinking about getting these animals to always adopt and not shop,” Di Leonardo said.  “That adage applies to all species, not just dogs and cats.”

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