By Megan Alley
Officials from the village of New Richmond are asking residents and visitors to stop feeding the geese and ducks that live in the village, along the shoreline of the Ohio River.
The advisory comes as the village awaits word from the county on its grant application to help pay for work to put in a curb, gutter and sidewalk – the length of Susanna Way – in the park adjacent to the waterfront, where many of the waterfowl have taken up residence.
The sidewalk project is part of New Richmond forefather Thomas Ashburn’s original vision to have a promenade along the waterfront, according to Greg Roberts, village administrator.
“I see myself fulfilling something that the founder of the town had envisioned, and I don’t think he envisioned a nice public walkway covered in bird droppings,” Roberts said.
The issue of the overpopulation of geese and ducks has been brewing for nearly three decades.
“I can remember 30 years ago when there was a small flock of mallards; probably no more than eight or nine ducks, and they were really cute, and it was nice to see the ducks,” Roberts explained. “Then, over time, I believe people have just dropped off the domestic geese and ducks, and they have proliferated to the point where the population is a hazard.”
He added, “It’s a hazard driving through there, but I believe it’s a public health hazard with all the droppings that they leave behind.”
Roberts also added that while people that feed the waterfowl think they are helping the birds, they are actually doing a disservice to the animals because they become reliant on handouts.
“They become dependent, and they do not follow their natural migration [paths]; it’s not healthy for them,” he said.
Looking ahead, Roberts hopes to get buy in from the village council to relocate the domestic ducks to farm ponds, where they can be “taken care of.”