UPDATED: Dozens of Ducklings Have Died in Highland Park Reservoir, Access Ramp Needed to Save Remaining Few

Content Note: photo of the bodies of the dead ducklings

As of 2:45 PM, I’ve not heard back from Mayor Peduto’s spokespersons, or really anyone except a staffer for Councilor O’Connor who said he was sharing my information with the Parks Director. Whom I told him is out of the office, as is Councilor O’Connor.

Others are reporting lots of “not our problem” responses from Parks Department, Animal Care & Control, PWSA, etc. Mainstream media is pretty stretched so I don’t think is going to get covered beyond my blog.

If it takes PWSA 11 years to address dead ducks, what does that say about their capacity to address the water crisis facing human customers? If the City is unable to save some ducks with a net or a temporary ramp due to bureaucracy, what does that say about malfunctioning high water gates and other infrastructure problems? You want people to use the park, you should try to minimize the number of dead animals floating in the water. Common sense.

I did get a number PWSA to call: 412-255-2409.

I also found a 2006 Post-Gazette article about dead ducks at the exact same space. Apparently, PWSA is taking 11+ years to get a ramp approved?

Finally, a wildlife rescuer sent me a photo showing five recently hatched duckling swimming in the water today. Without a temporary ramp, they might be stuck too and die from exhaustion or a lack of food.

I’d be curious how many people have called about this over the past 11 years since that first article ran.

Ducklings Highland Park
Five newly hatched ducklings swimming in the Highland Park Reservoir on 24 May 2017

Disturbing reports out of Highland Park where ducklings unable to climb out are dying en masse.

According to local wildlife rescue volunteers, the problem is that the reservoir is too steep for the ducklings who can’t yet fly their way out. Volunteers cannot access the water by boat, ladder or net so the ducklings are in dire need of an access ramp, much like the one built for the Reflecting Pool in the US Capitol that has received so much media coverage.

My neighbor has been fielding calls from Highland park neighbors who are upset and want to save the remaining ducklings. She told me that she has personally observed 15 dead ducklings floating in the reservoir.

ducklings Pittsburgh
Neighbor’s photo of dead ducklings in the Highland Park Reservoir

City of Pittsburgh Department of Animal Care and Control have successfully freed deer that leapt into the Reservoir, but they say any type of ramp construction would fall under the purview of the City Parks Department. Director Jim Griffin was unavailable for comment this morning. I’ve reached out to Mayor Peduto and Councilman Corey O’Connor who chairs the Council committee responsible for the parks.

Animal Care and Control is floating the concern that the ducklings have a virus, but that seems odd – a virus that doesn’t impact more mature young ducks and adult ducks who just happen to have the ability to get out of the Reservoir?

A similar issue made national headlines recently when a wildlife rescue group built a duckling evacuation ramp for the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.

Duckling Ramp
Photo: NBC.com

This must be addressed because they ducks will likely have another brood this summer.

Community members are urged

  • to call the Parks Department and insist they immediately construct a simple ramp using boards to save the remaining ducklings. The number is 412-255-2539. NOTE – the Director is OUT today so someone else needs to address this to save any remaining ducklings ASAP.
  • call the Highland Park Northeast Division at 412-665-3632
  • contact Highland Park City Councilor Deb Gross at 412-255-2140
  • contact Councilor Corey O’Connor, Chair of the Parks committee 412-255-8965
  • contact Councilor Daniel Lavelle, Chair of the Animal Care & Control committee 412-255-2134
  • contact The Mayor’s Office 412-255-2626 as well as 311
  • PWSA: 412-255-2409.

I can’t imagine anyone would object to a simple ugly temporary ramp until the Director can create a more permanent solution with the input of wildlife advocates. We can even crowdfund it!

Please leave a comment if you do call and tell me what response you received.


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