Council Warns: 'Caution, Duck Crossing'

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The ducks won one and lost one Thursday evening at the Payson Town Council meeting.

While the council voted to erect cautionary 15 mph speed limit signs on Country Club Drive near Green Valley Park, the resolution they passed also mandates reducing the domestic duck population to levels recommended by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.

In agreeing to the cautionary speed limit, which will not be enforced by the police department, the council seemed sympathetic to the case made by Payson resident and frequent park patron Amy von Somogyi, who has led the fight to provide a safer environment for the estimated 60 to 70 ducks and 15 geese who have taken up residence there.

"There are two important issues," Von Somogyi told the council, "that of the hazard to the ducks and geese that cross in that area, and the hazard to the motorists on that blind curve. We've all seen some pretty terrible things happen to these animals. We know that Parks and Recreation, the Town of Payson and Game and Fish did not choose to have these ducks and geese there. But the reality is that they are there, and they are being hit by cars and they are dying ... very long and painful deaths."

After several residents who live near the park expressed concerns about excessive noise and the possible spread of diseases, the council also listened closely as Parks Director Bill Schwind explained the need to keep the ducks and geese under control.

"Game and Fish recommends we keep the duck population at three to five animals per acre-foot of water," Schwind said. "We have 13 acre-feet, so you can do the math. We could call Wildlife Services and they would come in and do what they do to thin the population."

Dr. Sandra Snyder and Dr. Lorenzo Gonzales, two local veterinarians, have agreed to provide rehabilitation and euthanization services at no cost.

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