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Conservationists Urge People Not To Feed Birds

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The Environmental Board, the Society for the Protection of Animals and the Lasnamäe district government have teamed up to urge people not to feed waterfowl, as each year the practice entices thousands of migratory birds to spend the winter in Estonia instead of flying south.

"These birds mostly gather in large colonies near ice-free ponds and are therefore prone to becoming infected and spreading disease. Some of their illnesses may also be picked up by humans," said Teet Koitjärv adviser at the Nature Conservation Department of the Environmental Board, adding that feeding waterfowl before their migration period also dims the feathered creatures' migratory instincts.

In addition, pastry products, which are most commonly used to feed the wild birds, are carbohydrate-rich and poor in minerals, and may therefore damage the birds' digestive systems and harm their flying abilities, said Heiki Valner, head of the Society for Protection of Animals.

Feeding waterfowl is justified only during cold winters in the absence of open waters, but this is more an exception than a rule, Valner said.

Last year, the Lasnamäe district boasted one of the largest waterfowl populations in Tallinn, as hundreds of ducks occupied outdoor market areas. Swan colonies that end up spending winter in Estonia are another major issue, as thick sea ice leaves many of them starving and stranded on shores. 


Ingrid Teesalu

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