Editorial: In Nashua, a flap over dead ducks

Last modified: Thursday, January 02, 2014
If veteran Nashua Democratic Rep. David Campbell deliberately mowed down the ducks in front of Nashua’s Crowne Plaza Hotel with his BMW last month, he’s committed a murder most fowl. If he truly expected the ducks to move, he’s guilty of negligent 
duckicide and a stunning lack of understanding, for one who’s spent so much time in the State House, of animal behavior.

Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings, they of Make Way for Ducklings, needed the aid of kindly Boston police officers to safely make their way back and forth from their home on an island in a lagoon in Boston’s Public Garden. And every day, an official duck master marches the famed ducks of Memphis’s Peabody Hotel from their home on the hotel’s roof to an elevator and then down to the marble fountain in the lobby for their daily swim. They could not make the trip safely on their own.

Rep. Campbell, crows and blue jays yield. Geese, ducks, moose and teenagers of a certain age and disposition don’t. Getting through life without needlessly killing them requires knowing that.

We must ask, however, why oh why were people feeding ducks, or any other wildlife, in a road or driveway? It sets the critters up for slaughter. So does tossing uneaten food out car windows. Animals attracted to the food, the savvy crow and a few other creatures excepted, often end up shaped like Frisbees.

People who feed birds responsibly and put out and take in their feeders when Fish and Game officials recommend doing so, are aiding the birds and protecting the bears. As wildlife officials warn every year, bears attracted to feeders, unsecured garbage cans and other sources of food lose their fear of people. They must be relocated or killed. People who feed ducks, geese, pigeons, squirrels, raccoons and other wildlife, especially if they do so in parks or other public places, are a menace to mankind and wildlife alike. Anyone who’s had to comfort, and clean up, a crying kid who slid into second base after a flock of a geese grazed on the field will understand. So will golfers who have to dig goose goo out of their spikes.

Given an ample source of food, many species of wildlife proliferate until they become a nuisance. They can also become aggressive. Geese accustomed to handouts will peck and bite if not given one. Their necks and wings are strong enough to break an arm. Squirrels will bite. Pigeons turn cars and sidewalks white, and the deposits they leave behind can spread disease. Ducks fed for the amusement of pond residents and visitors spread an avian parasite that causes swimmers itch in people.

Ducks belong in the wild. Not in a hotel driveway. But Campbell shouldn’t have run them down. We look forward to his opponent’s campaign slogan, assuming Campbell chooses to run for office again. Corrigan went the wrong way. The ball rolled between Bill Buckner’s legs. Vice President Dan Quayle will forever be the guy who, at a sixth-grade spelling bee, added an “e” to the end of “potato.” Campbell will never be able to put the incident completely behind him. He may well become the first politician unseated by a flock of ducks.