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Ducks in Yorkshire are benefitting from thinner waistlines and cleaner homes after figures released recently show the public are choosing to feed them healthier treats.Last spring the Canal & River Trust, the charity which cares for more than 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, called on visitors in Yorkshire to leave the bread at home and instead swap to healthier treats such as seeds, lettuce and peas which are more like a duck’s natural diet.
The charity has released data which shows an 11% drop in the number of people feeding ducks bread in Yorkshire and Humberside – down from 64% to 53%. And the good news continues, as the number of people feeding ducks healthier snacks such as seeds, fruit and vegetables has doubled.
Despite the positive changes however and the overwhelming public response over the last 12 months, there’s still work to be done as a hefty 3.5 million loaves of bread are still being thrown into canals, rivers, ponds and lakes every year and potentially polluting the environment. The Canal & River Trust’s recent nationwide poll found that Yorkshire and Humberside has the second highest percentage of people still feeding ducks white bread.
Now at the start of spring and at a time when thousands of new ducklings are due to hatch on its waterways, the Canal & River Trust is calling on people to continue their good work and spread the word even further.
Uneaten soggy bread can cause a build-up of bad nutrients which can lead to greater algae growth, spread disease and encourage pests such as rats.
The Trust’s waterways host hundreds of thousands of ducks and other waterfowl and the charity takes its responsibility of keeping their homes safe very seriously. It wants the millions of people who enjoy the much loved family tradition of feeding the ducks to be able to enjoy it for generations to come.
Throwing bread into a canal or river can create overcrowding of bird populations, as the birds will flock to the same location in search of their starchy treat.
Too many ducks or waterfowl in one place can stress the birds and lead to their habitats being damaged. It also creates excessive amounts of bird droppings which, along with being smelly and slippery underfoot, can reduce water quality and clog waterways with harmful algae.
Jonathan Hart Woods, environment manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “We’re really pleased with the public response to our campaign so far and the way people in Yorkshire are changing their duck feeding habits. However there’s still work to be done and still too much bread is being dumped in the waterways. We need more people to get the word out and encourage everyone to feed the ducks sensibly.
“It only takes a few simple changes such as swapping bread for healthy food that is closer to a duck’s natural diet – like oats, corn or peas. If everyone avoids going to the same duck-feeding hotspots and exercises portion control that would also make a big difference.”
The charity is giving away a free booklet packed with tips on the right food to feed the ducks which includes lots of activities for children. To receive this, along with your free Quack Snack pouch to store your healthy duck treats, Text QUEST to 70123
For more information on the campaign visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/ducks

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