The arrival of spring means ducklings have begun to hatch across Echo Park Lake. But this year’s hatching season has Thomas DeBoe, a longtime Echo Park resident who lives across the lake, worried. The nets that were draped across the lake’s new wetlands last year to protect them from birds have separated many ducklings from their mothers, DeBoe said. While the adult birds manage to get around the protective barriers, many Mallard chicks and other ducklings get trapped under the netting and get separated from their mothers. DeBoe said he and other wildlife advocates alerted city officials about the problem last year but the nets have remained. This week, he spotted his first dead duckling floating on the water underneath a net. “Each time the mother duck takes them into the nets, some will not be able to find their way out,” DeBoe said in an email. “If they can’t get out they die.”
The netting was installed about a year ago after ducks and other birds began feasting on the approximately 20,000 aquatic plants that were installed as part of the lake’s clean up. The idea of the nets was to give the plants time to grow and establish themselves before getting picked off by birds. But no one ever said when those nets would be removed.
DeBoe has again contacted Recreation and Parks officials this year about the problem but has not heard back. Complicating matters, he said, is that the responsibility for the park and lake are now divided up among several agencies. The Eastsider will be seeking information from Recreation and Parks to see if those nets are going to be removed.