By Carolyn Gusoff

BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Every year, well-meaning people buy baby chicks and ducklings as Easter props and gifts.

But animal advocates say it’s often impulse buying that can go very wrong after the holiday, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.

A Hewlett man bought adorable little ducklings for Easter for his grandkids, but he soon he realized it was a bad idea.

“They were in the bathtub and they eat and they poop. It’s a mess. It really is a mess,” Giancarlo Mazzanti said.

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It’s what many with good intentions discover — ducklings are not toys. Caring for them is a decade-long commitment.

Mazzanti turned his over to a rescuer, who said this is the time of the year when domestic ducks end up cruelly abandoned in waterways.

“Domestic ducks have been inbred for thousands of years for the farming industry, so they have tiny wings, they large bodies and they can’t survive on their own. These animals are distinct from their wild brethren as a chihuahua is from a wolf,” said John Di Leonardo of the group Long Island Orchestrating For Nature.

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He says abandoning them is a death sentence. That’s why his group rescues domestic ducks, nurses them back to health, and then sends them to homes around the country that are equipped to raise them.

“They are not science projects. They are not Easter gifts. They are thinking, feeling animals,” Di Leonardo said.

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Barbara Wesotski said she saw someone abandoning ducks in the canal behind her Baldwin home.

“I feed them because I noticed that they are slowly dying. They don’t know know how to find food. They cant fly. As you see, some are suffering malnutrition. Their wings are deformed,” Wesotski said.

It’s actually illegal in many municipalities to have a duck as a pet and it’s illegal in New York state to abandon one.

“They are living, sweet, social things, and they belong to be dumped in a canal when you’re done with them,” Wesotski said.

“Don’t do it. Do your homework first,” Mazzanti said of buying ducklings.

Advocates say a better gift would be a stuffed animal.

Di Leonardo’s group, which is called LION for short, can be reached on Facebook or at 516-592-3722.

Abandoning domestic animals, including ducks is a crime in New York punishable by fines and possible jail time.

Carolyn Gusoff