Please don’t feed the ducks

Sussex Wildlife Trust is urging people to stop feeding the ducks at Woods Mill nature reserve at Henfield, West Sussex because excess bread is polluting the lake and harming wildlife.

Nutrient pollution caused by large amounts of bread and other food being thrown into the lake can cause harmful algal blooms, which deplete the lake’s oxygen and kill off aquatic wildlife. The risk of blooms increases in warm, sunny weather when algae can reproduce exponentially, so the lake is currently primed for disaster unless we take action now.

Charlotte Owen, Conservation Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust said, ‘Excess bread is also harmful to the ducks and can cause malnutrition, disease and bad behaviour. We are now seeing a large group of last year’s ducklings constantly roaming the reserve in search of people who might feed them, rather than exhibiting natural behaviour. This is detrimental to their welfare and also poses a nuisance to visitors.

‘Ducks naturally eat a wide range of aquatic insects, snails, worms, pond weed and other vegetation. A natural and balanced diet is especially important during the breeding season, when they need to provide their young with appropriate food. There are healthier alternatives that can be fed to ducks (e.g. peas, sweetcorn, chopped greens) but since Woods Mill is a nature reserve, we are asking that no additional food is provided to any of the wildlife on site. There is plenty of natural food available, and the current situation poses a threat to the wildlife that so many people come here to enjoy.’