Don't duck the issue at Tuscawilla

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Column by Jim Clark

When it comes to the pesky critters at Tuscawilla Park in downtown Ocala, I’m really not trying to duck the issue. It’s just that I don’t know what’s going on with the web-footed creatures that dominate the area and why they have to be killed, especially if the description of their planned demise is accurate.
If you missed it, there are ducks all around the ponds at the park in the northeast area of downtown. There used to be just one pond with ducks, but then someone in his infinite wisdom decided to create a new manmade lake on the other side of Watula Avenue, so the ducks have an additional place to swim. But to get there, they have to cross the road.
It’s actually commonplace for the ducks, in a long row as ducks tend to do, to cross the street, stopping traffic for a couple of minutes as they waddle from the east pond to the west pond, or vice versa.
So along comes the Ocala City Council, which decides that the certain breed of ducks has to be killed. Never mind that some people offered to help relocate them to where they wouldn’t be a nuisance downtown, the council decided that death would be preferable. The description of the death is that the ducks would be sedated, then taken to a gas chamber somewhere and euthanized.
Gas chamber? Is that the most humane way to kill ducks, even nuisance ducks? We got rid of the gas chamber for convicted murderers in most states years ago. Are the ducks worse than convicted murderers?
I have to admit that I’ve never been known as an animal rights activist … I believe people’s rights come first. But the city’s plans seem a little bit gruesome to me, especially since a painless alternative has been offered by several people.
It’s interesting that the city waited until after qualifying for the city election to make this decision. It’s too late for people to run against them in the next few weeks. I guess they felt they could play politics with ducks and it wouldn’t hurt them.
But I’m going to hold out hope that the city officials will come to their senses and treat these animals with a little less cruelty. If people are willing to take the ducks to other locations, they should be allowed to do so.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.