Open season on Muscovy ducks?

March 31, 2010 at 2:57 PM

WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- New U.S. environmental rules have a mixed effect on Muscovy ducks, protecting them, but only in Texas, environmental activists say.

That's because Muscovy ducks, a species native to Central and South America and the Rio Grande Valley, are considered invasive everywhere outside the Lone Star state. The new regulations list Muscovies as a protected native wild bird, while allowing property owners and state wildlife agents to kill invasive birds, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Muscovies are adaptable. The descendants of escaped domestic ducks live as far north as Canada. Current regulations ban duck enthusiasts from relocating invasive Muscovies or releasing birds back into the wild after treatment for injuries.

Eunice Sivertsen, who runs Duck Haven, a refuge in Margate, Fla., fears the rules allow "all the nasty people to go out there and shoot the ducks right in their back yard."

George Allen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said he got little feedback during the public comment period but a lot after the regulations were published.

"They started contacting me about uses of Muscovy ducks I didn't know about before," he said. "I want to go back and revise the regulations."

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