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Muscovy Duck Migration - What Pearland Residents Should Know

Post Date:11/01/2019 4:01 pm

Update (11/11/19)

The City of Pearland has been made aware of news headlines which imply it is legal to shoot Muscovy Ducks within the City. As was stated in the original article release by the City, it is generally illegal to discharge a firearm in the City. There are a few exceptions which are incorporated in Texas Government Code 229.002 and the statute for review is quoted below. Absent these exceptions it is illegal to discharge a firearm in Pearland and people who are caught doing so may face criminal charges.

In addition, the original article advocates for people to follow the law. The City of Pearland received numerous inquiries as to the removal of Muscovy Ducks. Unfortunately it was discovered that some planned on doing so illegally. The intent of the article was to ensure landowners know their legal rights and know there are consequences for the unlawful removal of Muscovy Ducks.  

Sec. 229.002. REGULATION OF DISCHARGE OF WEAPON. A municipality may not apply a regulation relating to the discharge of firearms or other weapons in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the municipality or in an area annexed by the municipality after September 1, 1981, if the firearm or other weapon is:

(1) a shotgun, air rifle or pistol, BB gun, or bow and arrow discharged:

(A) on a tract of land of 10 acres or more and more than 150 feet from a residence or occupied building located on another property; and

(B) in a manner not reasonably expected to cause a projectile to cross the boundary of the tract; or

(2) a center fire or rim fire rifle or pistol of any caliber discharged:

(A) on a tract of land of 50 acres or more and more than 300 feet from a residence or occupied building located on another property; and

(B) in a manner not reasonably expected to cause a projectile to cross the boundary of the tract.

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Native only to Mexico, South and Central America, and three counties in the United States, Muscovy ducks have taken residence in Pearland and are ruffling some feathers.

Noted for their red, warty-spotted faces and varying black, white, and brown plumage, the ducks are often seen frequenting the neighborhoods of West Oaks and Westwood Village, but activity has been recorded throughout the city. 

Muscovy Ducks

 

In response to the growing sentiment, the City is educating landowners and homeowner’s associations (HOAs) about options, within legal parameters, related to the ducks. 

Despite Pearland’s status as a bird sanctuary city, a federal control order against the Muscovy ducks supersedes the bird sanctuary ordinance, as well as other federal migratory bird statutes. As such, the general public has the legal authority to address the ducks—including Muscovy duck nests, eggs, and hybrids—on their property, without the requirement of a permit. 

Similarly, while the Federal Order permits the destruction of the ducks, the destruction is not mandated, unless the duck is captured and not released as stated below.

Muscovy DucksWhat HOAs/landowners can do:

  • Capture the Muscovy ducks
    • If the duck is not destroyed (killed), it must be transported to Hidalgo, Starr, or Zapata County. These three counties are the only counties in Texas and the United States where the duck may not be destroyed and can be released.
  • Destroy the Muscovy ducks
    • The duck must be destroyed by legal means. Note that in Pearland city limits, the discharge of a firearm is generally illegal.
      • If a duck is destroyed where use of a firearm is permissible, the person doing so must use nontoxic shot or nontoxic bullets.
  • Contract an agent to capture/destroy the ducks
  • Following the capture/destruction of a Muscovy duck:
    • Ducks MUST be disposed through burial or incineration
Muscovy Ducks

What HOAs/landowners/residents/visitors/agents cannot do:

  • Capture/destroy the ducks if:
    • The take (capture, destruction, harassment) occurs at a place or on property they do not own

      OR

    • The agent has not received permission from the HOA/landowner
      • HOAs and landowners may permit or contract their tenants, employees, or other outside entities to capture/destroy the ducks
  • Keep, consume, sell or offer to sell the duck, or release the duck in another location with the exception of releasing in Hidalgo, Starr, or Zapata County.
  • Participate in the take of a native species
    • The take of a duck other than a Muscovy can lead to charges. HOAs, landowners, and their agents must be certain they are destroying the Muscovy species. Accidental takings can damage native populations.
    • In the event of an accidental take of another species, the accidental take MUST be reported to the Fish and Wildlife Service or Ecological Services Office for the state/location for the occurrence.

For those parties who may not find issue for the ducks, note City ordinance prohibits the feeding of ducks, including Muscovy ducks.

Those who fail to abide by the above standards could be subject to criminal charges or civil penalties.

City Involvement

Keeping in mind landowners’ and HOA’s exercising their own powers, the City’s Animal Services will not be involved in the capture or destruction of the ducks. To do so would fall outside the Animal Services’ mission and could require a substantial amount of public resources.

Animal Services will continue to advocate for landowners and the rights they have, as well as educate the public about general control measures concerning the ducks. Animal Services will also continue to investigate cases of animal cruelty and unlawful animal killings, including those involving the Muscovy ducks.

 

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