Releasing Pet Ducks to the Wild?

It is not legal to release pet ducks into the wild (USFWS photo)

Releasing domestic animals to the wild is not only illegal, but most are not prepared to take care of themselves in the wild. Our pets are usually dependent upon humans for food and protection, so when released to the wild to fend for themselves, many will end up starving to death or falling prey to any number of predators. (USFWS photo)

Question: I have some ducks that I would like to find a good home for but I’m not sure where to start. They have been pets and I don’t want to eat them or risk giving them to someone else who will eat them. I’d like to release them into the wild and am hoping you can advise where I can do this. I’m willing to donate them someplace as long as I know they won’t get eaten. (Mike)

Answer: I understand you are seeking a good home for your pets, but releasing domestic animals into the wild is a bad plan and often has disastrous results. Typically, domestic animals depend on humans for food and are ill-equipped to take care of themselves in the wild. When released to the wild, many end up starving to death or falling prey to any number of predators.

If the animals do survive, they often become a nuisance in their new home and may cause damage because they tend to seek out people for food. Domestic animals also compete for resources with wildlife, and in some cases may breed with their wild counterparts which reduces the genetic fitness of wildlife populations. There is also a real possibility of introducing domestic diseases to wildlife that have no immunity. This may cause die-offs, sometimes quite massive ones. In addition to all of this, it is also against the law. Any person who willfully abandons an animal is guilty of a misdemeanor under California Penal Code, section 597s.

You might try posting a notice at a local farm or agricultural store because many of these stores regularly sell domestic ducklings. You could also search for petting zoos or small city zoos to see if they may be interested in giving them a good home. If that doesn’t work out, try advertising on the Internet. You might also check with local schools and ask friends.

Bottom line … you have a number of options to explore in your quest to find a new home for your feathered friends, but releasing them into the wild should not be one of the them.


Selling abalone jewelry
Question: I’ve recently been to a few beaches where I’ve found red abalone shells that have washed up on the shore. I’ve collected a few shell fragments and have made jewelry from them. Friends of mine have shown the items to others and now they want me to make them items as well. My questions is … Is it illegal for me to collect red abalone shells and then make jewelry, then sell them to friends, and so forth? I’ve gotten mixed answers from the Web and have tried to navigate your Website. I have seen no definitive answer. If anyone could respond to this it would be great. (Matt R.)

Answer: You may give the shells away or use them for personal use, but shells collected under the authority of sport fishing license cannot be legally bought, sold, traded or bartered.

People often ask what they can do with their old abalone shells. We get requests for shells from Native American tribes who use them for ceremonial purposes. Shells can be donated directly to a Native American Tribe, or they can be given to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and we will distribute them to Native Americans when we get requests.


Deer decoys
Question: I know that baiting for big game is illegal in California, but what about using deer decoys to attract deer to a certain location when deer hunting? (Matt W.)

Answer: Yes, decoys are legal to use while deer hunting in California. However, decoys that employ any recorded or electrically amplified bird or mammal call or sound is illegal to use for big game.


Transporting smoked/canned fish
Question: We have a vacation house on the North Coast where we spend a lot of time ocean fishing and enjoy smoking and/or canning our fish. How can we legally transport this processed fish back to our home in the valley? (Jim S., Redding)

Answer: As long as you possess only the legal limit and the fish were taken legally, transporting these fish as smoked or canned is not a problem. Regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved, no more than one possession limit may be possessed by any one person (CCR Title 14, section 1.17).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. DFGNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

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