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Why are there so many dead ducks in this Norfolk town?

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 April 2019

Several deceased ducks have been found in Diss, possibly due to violent mating. PHOTO: Angela Sharpe

Several deceased ducks have been found in Diss, possibly due to violent mating. PHOTO: Angela Sharpe

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A Norfolk town has been hit by an unusual number of duck deaths - with one expert blaming "aggressive mating".

Ducks living on the Mere in Diss have been found dead. Photo: Paul HewittDucks living on the Mere in Diss have been found dead. Photo: Paul Hewitt

Questions are being raised about why a number of duck bodies have been found in Diss, a town well known for its large duck population living on the Mere.

The chairman of the Diss and District Angling Club, Ben Wilby, reported removing six females and one male from the Mere on Monday, while Diss Town Council said it had removed two ducks that were reported.

Martin Fowlie, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said it could be due to the violent behaviour of the birds.

He said: “Mallards have quite a violent mating ritual which can result in the death of the female and they can sometimes drown.

Questions have been asked in Diss as to why ducks have been dying. PHOTO: Annie HirstQuestions have been asked in Diss as to why ducks have been dying. PHOTO: Annie Hirst

“However it’s not that common for it to result in death, in fact it’s quite unusual.”

Mr Wilby said the ducks he found looked as though they died during mating, adding: “When we have been fishing from there you see how aggressive they are with each other. Normally you do find the odd one dead.

“I have been fishing the Mere for 25 years and this year seems to be the worst for dead ones. This could be due to the lack of females on the Mere.

“I felt it was good to remove them as most people would naturally think it’s the anglers fault which it isn’t.

“Unfortunately it’s nature.”

Some residents have speculated on whether the cause was algae in the water. Blue-green algae has previously been a problem in Diss, with feeding ducks bread thought to be a factor.

Mr Fowlie said: “Usually later in the year, in the summer, you get concentrations of algae called Botulism, which is basically a kind of food poisoning but it seems a bit early for that. But without a veterinary post mortem examination it’s impossible to say for sure.”

The Mere and adjoining park are the property of Diss Town Council. A spokesman said: “We have had two complaints and have removed all ducks reported to us on our land. Anyone making complaints we have been passing through to the local police.

“One incident was on the Mere Boardwalk and one in the park that an elderly resident took to the vets to be euthanised because it was in such a bad condition. They are the only two we have had reported at this time but we are aware there may be more.”

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