Ducks in a northwest Houston neighborhood have become so annoying over the past decade that the local homeowners association has decided it's time to kill them — which has neighbors feeling either totally relieved or very uncomfortable.
For the past 15 years, the Muscovy ducks in a neighborhood called Woodwind Lakes have destroyed flower beds, crapped in pools and on front porches, and been run over by cars. No one is quite sure where the ducks came from. The neighbors have tried to get rid of them by snatching the duck eggs when they find them, or by putting up “don't feed the ducks” signs to prevent them from leaving the pond. But the ducks always come back. To euthanize all 130 of them will cost the HOA about $13,000, which is pooled from all the residents. But President Ray Pavia says that after endless complaints and headaches, it's worth it.
“They're a total nuisance,” Pavia said. “We would love to have been able to gather them and transfer to a farm out in Conroe, but that's not allowed.”
It's not allowed under a strange federal wildlife regulation that considers the Muscovy duck both a “protected species” and one that's under a “control order” because they've become invasive. That means that everywhere in America except three southern Texas counties where the Muscovy ducks are native, people are allowed to take eggs from nests or kill the ducks to get rid of them, but are not allowed to capture them and free them into the wild.
As the Humane Society of the United States noted, this is resulting in more property owners who have started to think about killing the ducks — as in Woodwind Lakes.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
To other residents, however, the idea of rounding up all the neighborhood ducks to basically exterminate them doesn't feel right.
Carmen Shell says that people like to call her “the duck lady.” They have yelled at her for feeding the ducks, which she does more often in the winter months because she knows they're hungry and feels bad for them. She owns a “bird book” and has studied the Muscovies (as have many residents, by observing them in their yards constantly). And to her they are just a part of living in an area with trees and ponds and are part of the wildlife.
“That's kind of the beauty of this neighborhood — it's part of the woodlands," she said. "It's got that atmosphere. It's like being out in the country.”
Yesterday evening, at a neighborhood meeting, the HOA green-lighted the duck-killin'.