Don’t Feed the Ducks in Stanley Park

Comments 2 by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s date night in the West End. You enjoy a lovely meal at a neighbourhood bistro, you hold hands walking down towards Lost Lagoon, the setting sun casts a beam of light across the water illuminating weeping willow trees, and then… the birds start to swarm. Seagulls, swans, ducks, Canadian Geese and an American Coot.

It will be tempting to take a photo to post to Instagram, and that’s just fine. But be sure to resist the urge to feed any creature you see in Stanley Park.

Ducks eat a mix of aquatic plants and insects to stay healthy and anything aside from that can be severely detrimental.

This summer the Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”) launched #QuackSnacks, an event with the purpose of educating park visitors about this practice. SPES asserts: “Feeding ducks is so unhealthy that organizations including the US National Parks Service and the BC SPCA consider it indirect animal cruelty.”

The way I see it, we are a culture concerned with eating local, natural and organic so why do we impose the exact opposite on our feathered friends in the park? A commenter on the #QuackSnacks event added that as long as bread and seed mix is handed out, [ducks] will not move on to forage for their natural foods.

So be a good neighbour to the creatures in our city’s crown jewel. Visit, enjoy, play, photograph, and soak up its natural beauty. But please, don’t feed the ducks in Stanley Park.

A photo posted by Rebecca Bollwitt (@miss604) on

For more information check out the Stanley Park Ecology Society online and read about the The Birds of Winter in Stanley Park.

2 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Tyler IngramMonday, October 27th, 2014 — 11:34am PDT

    I guess feeding ducks like any other animal can be detrimental to their health. I usually use duck seed myself. I remember listening to a SPEC person many many moons ago saying how a duckling that is fed bread will can have issues as the bread will expand in their gizzard from obsorbtion of water and thus making them “full” and not eat properly.

    Perhaps the Reifel Bird sanctuary should also look at doing this. They sell little bags of bird seed so people can feed the birds around the property. The ducks there flock like crazy when they see people throwing bird seed down.

    What I would also like to see is more emphasis on not feeding the racoons of Stanley Park. I see people (tourists usually) hand feeding them a lot. I remember seening one couple feeding a racoon a Mars bar! I’ve been surrounded by 12 or so racooons a few times myself, looking for food. I had to shoe them off my legs as they thought I was going to feed them.

    Also when I lived in the westend, I would see the same older gentleman sitting in his folding chair with a bag of dry cat food feeding the racoons each morning. They would come right up to his feet to eat.

  2. CelinaMonday, November 3rd, 2014 — 8:59am PST

    Hi Tyler,
    You are right, the raccoon can be very aggressive with people. And, it is extremely difficult to communicate with people that have developed relationships with these animals. Like with the older gentleman you described, imagine trying to get him to stop spending time with his “friends” each morning. Very difficult for us at SPES to show him that his behaviour is actually quite detrimental to the animals’ health and the safety of future visitors! This is especially true if he is inferring that the animals are enjoying their time with him.

    Stanley Park Ecology Society will be taking a close look at the results from #QuackSnacks and considering the next steps. We might decide to continue addressing the issue of duck feeding before widening the scope to raccoons and other animals in the Park. We will continue to let people know that it is best for ducks and geese health to let them find their own food.

    Thank you so much for your interests in this issue!

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