Too many lucky ducks at the Botany Pond

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The Botany Pond, commonly known as the duck pond — located on the south end of campus — has a duck population that is growing at an exponential rate.

BYU Grounds puts forth a great deal of effort to take care of these ducks and to keep the population in check.

Genhl Wear, who has worked with BYU Grounds for the last 30 years, is currently the new director of Grounds.

“The ducks create a management challenge for us. In few numbers, they are an asset; in the number we currently have, they are a challenge,” Wear said.

Rising population of ducks located at the Botany Pond south of campus.
Rising population of ducks located at the Botany Pond south of campus. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Furthermore, students have noticed that the duck population is increasing because it has become a common sight to see ducks on campus. David Brantley, a BYU student from Texas, passes the duck pond every day on his way to school.

“One thing I have noticed, my freshman year, you would see ducks on campus and it was so cool, but now you see them all the time,” said Brantley. “I feel like they are everywhere.”

These ducks have both positive and negative consequences. A positive result of the duck pond is that it brings the community together.

“I like the duck pond; I like how it seems to bring a lot of people into the area who aren’t necessarily students,” Brantley said. “I see older couples or families feeding the ducks. I love how it has that feeling of community.”

Even though the ducks can have a positive impact on the community, they can also be a challenge to clean up after.

Aaron Barlow, a landscape management major, is a student employee who works for Grounds on the south hill of campus, including the Botany Pond.

“I think ducks are gross … They have way too many babies, which helps with pest control, but now they are starting to become the pest,” said Barlow.

To make it easier to take care of these ducks, the grounds crew implemented some accommodations.

“There were so many ducks that we put the wood dock around the pond … the grounds crew cleans the dock multiple times a day,” Wear said.

Unfortunately, the grounds crew never gets a break. While most ducks leave for the winter, these birds don’t.

“They are typically migratory birds, but they choose to stay here. Maybe because the water never freezes since it is stream-fed from the hillside,” Wear said.

Whether it is because the pond never freezes or because these birds are constantly fed by students and families in the area, these ducks don’t want to leave the Botany Pond. Since the ducks do not migrate, sometimes it becomes necessary for people to remove them. A non-student segment of the Grounds staff regulates the duck population. The catch-and-release method is used, and they are taken to other bodies of water. Utah Lake is typically too close because Grounds has noticed that the ducks come back.

A removal is always done in coordination with the Division of Wildlife Resources, a state entity that manages all wild game.

Another reason Grounds removes the ducks, aside from overpopulation, is because sometimes another breed enters the Botany Pond. Ducks are federally protected, so it is important not to cross breed. The domestic and mallard species create a hybrid breed.

“The hybrids are larger than the native mallard, and they pollute the gene pool. They are also more aggressive,” Wear said.

The removal of ducks from the Botany Pond by catch-and-release is avoided at all costs, but when it is implemented, it is done for the greater good.

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