NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Young ducks and chickens are getting dumped across New York City.
Animal rescuers are pointing a finger at school hatching projects as the culprit. They’re pushing for a bill that would ban the projects from local classrooms.
They’re cute and fuzzy when they first hatch from school science projects. But as they grow, Mary Beth Artz says baby ducklings are getting dumped by the hundreds in parks across New York City. Every summer, she’s busier than the last, trying to save them.
“You see my heart sink, it’s this gut feeling of ‘Oh no, not again,'” she told CBS2’s Christina Fan.
Rescuers say the ducks come from school hatching projects, where kids grow the eggs in incubators and watch them hatch.
But activists say what’s designed to be a lesson about life becomes a case of animal cruelty.
“These aren’t wild animals. [The ducks] don’t know how to survive. The ducks can’t fly, they never migrate,” said anthrozoologist John Di Leonardo.
It’s unclear how many local classrooms participate in duck or chick hatching projects, but CBS2 found videos posted by local charter and public schools on their websites.
A spokesperson with the New York City Department of Education told us hatching projects are not part of their science core curriculum, but teachers are allowed to participate at their own discretion.
“We want our students to have enriching, hands-on lessons that get them excited about learning and are safe for everyone involved, including any classroom animals or pets. We’ll review the legislation,” Departent of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said.
“You can’t keep them in New York City. They’re illegal to keep as pets in New York City. People get frantic and probably just say, well, they’ll live with other ducks in the pond,” said Artz.
Just last year, Artz’s rescue saved more than 300 ducks, reported Fan. There’s a high chance they’ll surpass that number this year. It’s why they are pushing for a bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, that would ban hatching projects in New York schools.
“It’s kind of a poignant situation. Because kids love it, teachers like to teach it, but at the end, what happens to the animals that are born?” Rosenthal said.
Rescuers say they become literal sitting ducks, incapable of surviving.
The New York City Department of Education tells CBS2 they want students to have hands-on learning experiences that are also safe for animals, and they are currently reviewing the legislation.