Does anyone know of any legal reasons in the state of California not to release ducks that were raised by humans? I’m not really interested in impassioned pleas that it is a bad idea or that the ducks will be wimpy or otherwise unable to fend for themselves. I also don’t want to hear about how they could bread with wild ducks causing near sighted baby ducks who get their lunch money taken away from the bully ducks. I am just looking for a law that says releasing them is a crime of some sort
Are they a native species? Are you releasing onto property you own?
I’ve done some work in wildlife rehabilitation and those two questions constantly come up.
The fact that the birds are wimpy and can’t fend for themselves is the reason why it’s illegal. You can’t simply abandon an animal in any jurisdiction in the western world without facing criminal charges. Doesn’t matter whether the animal is a dog or duck. Nor will it fly if you try to claim that you were “releasing the dog back into the wild” when you know that it is utterly incapable of fending for itself in the wild.
In the case of California the specific law reads
There is no way that you can argue that abandoning an animal that you know can not find for itself is providing it with proper food, drink and shelter.
Releasing non-native animals and plants into natural bodies of water is a piss-poor idea anyway. Causes all sorts of problems. Either the animal/plant dies (bad for them), or it lives and reproduces (bad for everything else).
Illegal to release domestic and semi-domesticated ducks and geese into the wild (Avian Flu): CA Dept of Fish & Game page
Some of the reasons:
*spread of diseases to native species and to humans (see above link).
*taking over native habitat, nest sites, food sources, displacing the native species.
*do not migrate so just hang out in the places they get dumped, which are usually easy access to humans (typically, county parks), so they live on garbage and hand-outs, filth up the water, destroy the ecosystem through over-use, and ruin the water edge.
Dumped ducks and geese are public nuisances and ecological hazards which must eventually be rounded up and destroyed using Your Tax Dollars.
A discussion of the general issue and a specific instance in southern CA, in which the wild-living domestic duck problem was destroying the native species.
You can kill the duck and eat it. But you can’t “release it into the wild”.
Based solely on that quote, I think you can argue that you no longer have a duty to provide food, shelter, etc. The argument would be that you are terminating your “charge or custody”, doing so by releasing the animal into the wild. Certainly “custody” has been terminated in that case. There would have to be some other law or decision limiting how one can terminate ones “charge”.
I’m having trouble understanding the motivation of the OP. If the point is simply to get rid of the ducks, it seems that Googling duck rescues is only a little more work than asking strangers to opine on state law, and it’s kinder.
California Fish & Game Code §3300 says you can release them if you have a license:
But these would be actual wild-type birds raised in captivity for that purpose. Almost all domestic ducks were bred from wild Mallards, but they are not considered to be the native species any more, even if they are colored like Mallards, as some are. Exception to the above would be Muscovies which are a different species, never native.
Same or similar codes apply to Canada Geese. You need a license to even own actual native Canada Geese, whether you intend to release them or not. But the domesticated versions are legally considered to be livestock.