Aggressive ducks in Miami Springs have neighbors quacking at city officials.
A grandmother out for a stroll near the Ludlam Road bike path fought back after being accosted “suddenly and without warning” by a wild duck.
“It was a vicious, aggressive duck that came after us from across the street,” wrote Rosie Buckner, who called police and then described the assault in an email to city officials. “I fought the duck off, but not before I was bitten by it.”
Buckner, who was pushing her granddaughter in a stroller, was bit on the left knee and suffered a welt on her hand after she swung at the duck in self-defense.
Other residents have also complained about hostile ducks around town that storm out of the bushes to harass walkers and block traffic. In many cases, they flap their wings, bob their beaks and spin around in circles.
Police reports show that several walkers have been tormented recently by Muscovy ducks that weigh up to 20 pounds and are native to South America.
City Manager Ron Gorland suspects the ducks may be playing defense.
"They are typically guarding nests," Gorland wrote in an email to The Herald. “They’re not new to Miami Springs.”
The ducks continue to create nuisance problems throughout the state, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In Sarasota, a woman reported that she was savagely attacked by a Muscovy duck that came out of nowhere while she was in a park. In Palm Beach, another woman claims that a duck charged at her while she was taking out the trash.
Though they appear to border on belligerent, Florida statutes do not classify these ducks as wildlife. Rather, they are classified as private property just like dogs and cats.
"If someone claims ownership, the birds are the owner’s to do with as he or she pleases," the Fish and Wildlife website says, "so long as [the law] regarding animal cruelty is not violated.”
For example, tormenting or striking a duck could be a form a cruelty punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree or a fine not to exceed $5,000. An official with the agency did not respond to a Miami Herald inquiry about when using self-defense against a duck is appropriate.
The Muscovies were exported from South America to Spain in the 16th century, from which they found their way to Africa, China and finally back to the United States. The Incas domesticated the ducks and used them for pest control. In some countries, their meat is considered a delicacy.
One problem with the breed is that they can transmit diseases like “duck plague” and fowl cholera to wild waterfowl, according Fish and Wildlife.
The agency posted a last resort to resolve nuisance problems with the ducks.
“If the Muscovies have no owner, no state or federal law prohibits their capture and humane euthanization,” the agency’s website says.
However, there does not appear to be a local ordinance that deals with ducks that run afoul of the law, according to Municode.
“We are looking into what our options are,” said City Manager Ron Gorland.