Every year 6 million loaves of bread are being thrown into canals and rivers in England and Wales - potentially polluting the water and damaging hundreds of thousands of ducks’ homes.
Last year 73% of people in the South West fed the ducks, 82% of them admitting to feeding our feathered friends with bread.
Uneaten soggy bread can cause a build-up of bad nutrients which can lead to greater algae growth, spread disease and encourage pests such as rats.
Today, ahead of the official start of spring and duckling hatching season, the Canal & River Trust is calling on people from the South West to make a few simple changes to how they feed the ducks.
Laura Plenty, ecologist for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Please come and feed the ducks but do it sensibly so your children and future generations can enjoy it too.
"The charity is asking the public to make a few simple changes.
"Bread is not great for a duck’s health as it’s nothing like their natural diet so don’t over feed them with large quantities of it.
"Try to vary what you give them and swap it for healthier more natural treats like oats, corn, or defrosted frozen peas. And exercise portion control!
“Don’t follow the crowds, spread the love, and visit a new family of ducks to prevent large quantities of the starchy duck ‘junk food’ from clogging up the same places and potentially damaging the environment.”
The charity provides an important home to hundreds of thousands of ducks and other waterfowl and takes its responsibility of keeping their homes safe very seriously.
Throwing bread into a canal or river can create overcrowding of bird populations, as the birds will flock to the same location in search of their starchy treat.
Too many ducks or waterfowl in one place can stress the birds and lead to their habitats being damaged. It also creates excessive amounts of bird poo which along with being smelly and slippery underfoot, can have a negative effect on water quality and create harmful algae which can clog the waterway.
A public poll, carried out on behalf of the charity, found more than 15 million people fed the ducks with their family or friends last year, 12 million of them admitting to feeding our feathered friends with bread.
The survey also found more women (80%) feed the ducks than men (68%), and northerners feed the ducks more often than southerners (78% v 69%).
The charity has created a free booklet packed with tips on the right food to feed the ducks which includes lots of activities for children. To receive this, along with your free Quack Snack pouch to store your healthy duck treats, Text DUCKS to 70060.
For more information on the campaign visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/duck