The ducks are some of the first things students notice when they step on campus. Their slow swagger and many traces, to put it delicately, establish the ducks’ dominance on campus walkways.
As students, we have learned to cope with the ducks. We feed them, we take photos of them and we fight with them for sidewalk space – the ducks have become integrated in our daily routines.
However, the university’s recent actions to control the duck population have raised eyebrows. The issue first came to light when students noticed trappers with nets in the middle of the night near the Stanford Circle canal last week – coinciding closely with preparations for Inauguration Week.
The university cited health and safety concerns for the duck removal. The Muscovy duck is classified as a non-native nuisance animal in Miami-Dade County. The ducks can spread E. coli and salmonella bacteria, and their feces can alter the pH of the water. However, if the university is entirely justified in removing the ducks, it is strange that they plan no further action after last week’s trapping.
Even more dubious is the university’s claim that only 14 ducks were removed. That number could hardly make any significant impact on the population. It seems that the university would have removed more, or they do indeed plan on trapping more ducks throughout the semester.
Either way, there should be more transparency on how the duck population is being handled. For a school so closely embedded within the local ecosystem, this could be a valuable learning experience for students to understand the importance of maintaining an ecological balance and minimizing human effects, such as feeding the ducks. In the least, it will lessen the alarm of students walking through the area late at night and give the editorial staff more confidence knowing that the ducks are not, in fact, ending up in the dining hall.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.