OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Weber State University (WSU) has safely relocated over 60 ducks and geese from the campus pond.

While the campus’ Ada Lindquist Plaza water feature was drained, 30 ducks and 34 geese were rounded up with help from the Wasatch Domestic Waterfowl Resource (WDWR), a rescue group.

The whole effort took about 12 hours, says WSU. The animals will eventually be placed into loving homes via adoption. WSU says the frequent draining of the campus pond for cleaning and maintenance creates a dangerous situation for the birds who have made the area their home.

“Domestic waterfowl can’t fly away, so if they need to get away from a predator, their only resource (the water) was taken away from them,” says Adison Smith, founder of WDWR. “Not only that, but a lot of them depend on the algae in the water for food, so then their food source was taken away as well.”

WSU’s waterfowl have long been considered the university’s unofficial mascots, with their likeness showing up on merchandise, a social media presence and students waiting to watch the animals crossing the road as a campus attraction. But WSU says the waterfowl should not have been living in the pond at all. The animals’ presence today can be attributed to neglectful owners who abandoned them.

“A lot of people actually end up getting ducks because they think they’re so cute when they’re little and then they realize, ‘Oh hey, they take a lot of care and they’re loud and I don’t want them,’ so then they abandon them,” Smith said. “That’s why Weber State had this duck and goose problem in the first place.”

The abandoned ducks and geese who survived, bred with each other and created the present-day population students are familiar with today. Just because the waterfowl remain a beloved campus attraction, doesn’t mean they are safe to continue living there, says WSU.

“Weber State geese have been hit by cars and killed or seriously injured, several more geese were killed by an off-leash dog when the pond was drained in 2020 and many of the goslings and ducklings in the spring don’t make it to adulthood,” shares WSU.

The university has never taken care of the birds officially and WSU says their continued presence causes traffic delays, pedestrian issues, and unwanted debris such as food scraps and excrement.

“We don’t want anyone to feed them,” says Weston Woodward, Director of Campus Services. “It’s a huge mess to clean up on a daily basis, and it promotes more of them getting dropped off, with people thinking they’re being cared for.”

Campus officials have put up new signs telling visitors not to feed or abandon any domestic waterfowl in the pond.

“We just really appreciate Weber State working with us to save their lives and help us put up those signs so that we don’t have to do this in the future,” says Smith.

“We love wildlife, but there’s a place for the domestic birds and campus isn’t necessarily the safest place for them,” says Woodward. “I think Wasatch Domestic Waterfowl Resource is a great organization. We fully support them and the education that they’re trying to put out to the public.”