KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
October 27, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
You don’t have to go far in Katy to encounter a Muscovy duck. This non-native species of duck crowd local ponds and parks and run off migratory birds. Some neighborhood HOAs have given the green light for residents to get rid of the birds, even by killing them. While some homeowners approve of “hunting” these ducks, others worry about their neighborhood’s safety.
Photo: Jennifer Miko
The Muscovy duck is not supposed to be in Katy. It is native to Central and South America and was originally brought here as a domestic bird.
According to a Harris County game warden, the birds first came here as Easter pets, and the owners released them. Since this species doesn’t migrate or have a natural predator in the area, the population has boomed in the Katy area.
“These birds can really become a pest and we’ve had complaints of them defecating all over the place,” says a local game warden who didn’t want to provide their name. “The best way to get rid of them is to not feed them.”
If notified of a problem with the Muscovy ducks, game wardens can set up traps for the birds and then properly dispose of them.
The ducks congregate near lakes and ponds. Many have taken up residence at LaCenterra and local golf courses. They have also been spotted in waters in many West Harris County communities like King Crossing, Elyson and Ventana Lakes.
Photo: Jennifer Miko
“The Muscovy ducks’ poop has caused multiple repairs to our fountains and people are seeing erosion around the lakes,” says Leigh Ishee in Katy’s King Crossing community.
Several local homeowners’ associations are allowing residents to do what they need to do to get rid of these invasive birds.
“We in King Crossing and our lakes are being overrun by Muscovy ducks,” says a Katy mom. “We've always enjoyed them during our walks, but some people are obviously upset.”
Birds Can Legally be Removed
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department classifies the Muscovy ducks as invasive non-migratory birds and thus can legally be removed by appropriate means. These ducks are not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“In general, if a species is deemed invasive then yes, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department allows the animal’s destruction by citizens,” says Jeff McShan Public Information Officer with Constable Ted Heap’s Office, Harris County, Precinct 5.
Residents Use BB Guns
“Some residents in our neighborhood are using BB guns,” says the Katy mom from King Crossing. “There's no way that BB guns are killing these ducks. Either you've got to be a good shot, shooting point-blank, or multiple shots.”
“Apparently some men have been spot-light hunting,” says the Katy mom from King Crossing. “Some are luring them to their yards then shooting them.”
“Like any weapon, BB guns can be dangerous and should be treated with the same precautions as a firearm,” says McShan. “BB guns can kill a person. High-velocity BB guns, which have muzzle velocities higher than 350 feet per second, can increase this risk. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reports of about four deaths per year caused by
BB guns or pellet rifles.”
Reporting a Neighborhood Issue
Call Harris County Constable Ted Heap’s Office or 911 if you feel like you or others are in danger.
Submit general questions about animal cruelty to 927paws.org
To reach a Harris County game warden to report a problem, call 713-779-8977.
“Hopefully the neighborhood will get a few migratory ducks for us to enjoy on our evening walks,” says the Katy mom from King Crossing.
“The duck problem is bad,” says Ishee. “It has to be taken care of. I think our HOA is doing a good job.”
Katy Magazine spoke to a board member with the King Crossing HOA and they wished to issue “No comment.”