We get it. The duck families paddling around the Capitol reflecting pool are adorable. So adorable, in fact, that you are compelled to provide them nourishment. So you throw them some bread. Or crackers. Or whatever you just ordered from the Rayburn cafeteria.
Animal welfare groups need you to knock it off.
According to the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League, the Capitol ducklings are routinely getting separated from their mothers because all that snack-tossing is leading them astray. Many are unable to get back into the water without human assistance, says the organization’s president and CEO, Lisa LaFontaine, in a statement. Her group, along with the organization City Wildlife, have been partnering with the Architect of the Capitol to keep track of the ducks and reunite them when necessary.
Getting lost is only one of the risks. Ducks that eat too much bread and crackers can also develop serious health issues, including a condition called Angel Wing that, frankly, sounds horrific: it causes their wings to twist outward and prevents them from flying.
So, please, don’t feed the ducks. (And while we’re on the topic, don’t let your kids chase them around, either.)