Are Muscovy Ducks Protected in Florida? What About Other States?
If you have muscovy ducks creating a nuisance in your yard or neighborhood, read this article to learn what your rights are about their removal. Muscovy ducks are an invasive species in Florida, and feral duck populations can often be a problem. In case your backyard is overrun with Muscovies, you might be thinking about getting rid of them. However, it’s wise to first learn about Florida’s laws regarding Muscovy ducks and their protection. The same goes for duck lovers thinking of feeding wild Muscovy ducks, as feeding ducks in the wild is prohibited in many places.
Well, regardless of why you’re on this page, this article should answer all your queries regarding the protection of Muscovy ducks in Florida.
Are Muscovy Ducks Protected in Florida?
There are several laws that you should know about pertaining to Muscovy ducks. Muscovy ducks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits their killing, capturing, selling, trading, and transport in general.
However, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service issued a control order in 2010 for the relocation of Muscovy ducks.
This is because the government recognized the nuisance these birds can pose in places where they are invasive.
Of course, Florida’s anti-cruelty statute protects Muscovy ducks, like other birds. For those unfamiliar with the statute, it protects all animals against harassment and inhumane killing.
If you’re thinking of getting Muscovy ducks as pets, I have good news for you. You are allowed to own Muscovy ducks in Florida as personal pets. However, these ducks are regulated as Class III wildlife in Florida.
You aren’t allowed to put them up for sale or exhibit unless you have a special permit from the Department of Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Do You Need a License for a Muscovy Duck in Florida?
Don’t worry – while Muscovy ducks are a protected species, you don’t need a license to own them. You’re free to keep them as pets and poultry without having to get a permit. However, as I mentioned earlier, the exhibition and sale of Muscovies require special authorization.
Keep in mind that while you may possess Muscovy ducks, releasing them into the wild is prohibited. Since you can neither sell them nor let them into the wild, killing them is sometimes the only way to get rid of them.
Is It Illegal to Feed Muscovy Ducks in Florida?
Feeding wild ducks has been outlawed in many places due to the potential health and behavioral problems it might cause.
In Florida, however, it’s perfectly legal to feed Muscovy ducks (or any duck, for that matter).
Unless your city or neighborhood has a specific rule against feeding ducks, there shouldn’t be a problem from a legal perspective.
Now, here’s the thing – just because feeding Muscovy ducks in Florida isn’t illegal, it doesn’t mean you should feed them.
The best option for wild birds is to forage as per their natural instincts.
Bread and other foods that people typically feed wild ducks don’t have much nutritional value for them anyway.
Any human food that the ducks don’t eat will easily rot in Florida’s hot weather, polluting the water and potentially affecting wildlife.
Besides, feeding wild ducks regularly will cause them to become lazy and too reliant on human feeding.
They’d start pestering humans for food instead of foraging in their natural habitat.
As long as they are killed in a “humane” manner, you may kill Muscovy ducks in Florida.
The state’s law also allows you to kill them using firearms, provided that you use non-toxic shots or bullets.
Duck lovers and animal rights activists have previously criticized Florida’s laws regarding the management of Muscovy ducks.
Relocating them is illegal, even for wildlife management agencies.
According to activists, this would encourage people to kill Muscovies to get rid of large populations of wild ducks on private property.
Is Trapping Muscovy Ducks Legal in Florida?
Yes, trapping Muscovy ducks is perfectly legal in Florida as long as it doesn’t violate the anti-cruelty statute.
Landowners may either trap wild Muscovies themselves or call professional nuisance wildlife trappers to get the job done.
However, once you trap the ducks, there’s little you can do besides killing them since you’re prohibited from releasing them into the wild.
If there are any local animal sanctuaries nearby that accept Muscovy ducks, you may contact them and see if you can deliver the ducks to them.
Yes, you may catch feral Muscovies, and you don’t need a special permit for it.
Unless you have the right equipment and the necessary expertise, though, it might be a little challenging.
Muscovies are much larger than other duck species and are capable of flight. Wildlife trappers use special traps to catch Muscovy ducks.
If you insist on doing it yourself, look up funnel traps, which are used for catching larger birds like muscovies.
Why Are Muscovy Ducks Nuisances in Florida?
Large populations of Muscovy ducks in Florida are often a major nuisance.
They multiply quickly, often leading to conflicts between neighbors.
Known to roost on terrestrial plants, Muscovy ducks often nest in tree cavities.
They may also end up in farms, yards, and lawns, and make their nests on the trees there, especially if there’s a water body nearby.
Flocking around in large numbers, these ducks may also cause property damage.
Excessive duck droppings are also a big problem. Muscovies can poop as much as 15 pounds a day.
Too many Muscovies may result in messy sidewalks and excess nutrient loading in water bodies.
Fecal matter can also pose a direct health hazard by contaminating pools.
Feral Muscovies growing up in urban environments also learn to beg humans for food.
Having an aggressive duck chasing you around for food certainly isn’t a fun experience.
Being an invasive species, Muscovy ducks pose a threat to local breeds through direct competition.
They don’t transmit any disease to humans, but they do carry diseases that may spread to other native species.
In Texas, Muscovies aren’t protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as they are native to some parts of the state.
Classifying them as non-invasive migratory birds, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department allows their removal through appropriate means.
However, there are a few exceptions, with Muscovies enjoying protected status in some parts of the state.
It’s best to check out your local law and regulations before killing or trapping Muscovies in Texas.
What Other States Are Muscovy Ducks Protected In?
As per the control order by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Muscovy ducks are protected in only Zapata, Starr, and Hidalgo counties in Texas.
This means their nests or eggs cannot be destroyed in these places.
Are Muscovy Ducks Federally Protected?
Muscovy ducks are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but it only applies to their sale, exhibition, and relocation.
There’s no federal law against owning Muscovy ducks, and you do not need a federal permit for the same.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Muscovy Ducks Rare?
Wild muscovy ducks are quite rare, however. They can still be found in the jungles of South America, their original habitat.
You can spot the difference between a wild and a domestic duck because wild ones are leaner and usually all black or brown.
Domesticated muscovies come in many colors and are usually fatter.
Is It Illegal to Own Muscovy Ducks?
Moreover, as per the control order from the Fish and Wildlife Services that I cited earlier, you can also kill them for meat production and other purposes.
No special permit or license is needed to keep the ducks either.
However, in three specific counties in Texas, where these birds are native, Muscovies are protected from being killed or their nests being broken.
Can you eat Muscovy ducks in Florida?
These birds are not endangered, and in fact, they are reared in many places specifically for meat and egg production.
In Florida, there is no regulation regarding killing them either. As long as a non-toxic bullet or dart is used, you can even shoot them.
Can I shoot a duck on my property Florida?
If they are making a nuisance on your home or property, they are fair game to be shot at: as long as you use non-toxic bullets or darts.
We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around – and it works! Who doesn’t like an easy meal! But there are problems associated with your doing so. Read the link above to find out more about why you shouldn’t feed them. One great reason is that they eat mosquitoes so let’s not fill them up!
While Muscovies make great domestic ducks, the wild ducks can pose a serious problem if allowed to build up in large numbers.
Unfortunately, due to the restrictions on relocating them, you may have no choice but to kill them.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you found the article worth your time.