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County to remove dumped domestic animals from park

The county is re-scheduling a rescue mission for August to remove fifty domestic ducks that were dumped at Ascarate lake.

Wild ducks, geese and other water fowl seasonally make Ascarate lake home, but domestic fowl left behind by their owners in the same area are affecting the eco-system. While trying to survive without the skills to do so, they end up fighting the wild animals because they're scared and can cross breed.

It's a sad evolution that county leaders have been aware of for years. County commissioner David Stout said due to limited resources, taking action to prevent them getting dumped and to aid the animals was an issue, but they’re now taking the necessary steps to address the problem.

“We’re dealing with several issues at the park, but it is important to us to make sure that animals are taken care of and that they're not being left there. The signs are at the park now to warn people it is illegal to dump animals, and hopefully this will deter them,” he said.

The signs, however, were approved over a year ago, and there was a delay getting them posted due to limited funding and a change in staff.

“We had approved the spending for that last year as well, but our parks department had some turnover, there was some changes and putting the signs up sort of fell through the cracks,” Stout said.

Rescue efforts have been organized by local advocates and rescues along with the county. Stout tells KFOX14 that these events take a lot of coordination and effort between all the parties. According to park staff, they have not seen as many domestic animals dumped this year compared to past years, but a recent rescue to save some fifty ducks at the lake in May had a setback due to issue with the lake.

“We had some issues with the water. Some fish starting showing up dead, and we were scared that something was going on. So we cancelled it because we wanted to make sure that we didn't have any contamination, we didn't want people getting into the lake for the roundup and putting their health at risk,” Stout said.

Following the scare, the county rain test and found there was no contamination or algae in the lake.

Stout said preparations are now back on to save the dumped ducks sometime in August.

“We bought some fencing and bought some feed so that a couple of weeks before the roundup, the ducks can get acclimated to feeding in a certain area. We hope this works and is better than being in boats and chasing them around the lake with nets,” he said.

This is the first time a strategy like this will be used to save these animals, and county officials hope it will not only save time, but help save more domestic animals dumped at the lake, all at once.

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