Bird netting proves deadly for ducklings at Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Lake, ducks

A dead duckling found this week under the netting at Echo Park Lake | Thomas DeBoe

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.

Echo Park Lake, ducks

Dead ducklings at Echo Park Lake shown in 2013 photo | Martin Cox

Echo Park Lake, ducks

Photos shows ducklings trapped under netting | Thomas DeBoe


  1. We can take care of those nets. No problem.

  2. I’m starting to wonder if the people who supervised the restoration of the lake and park had any idea what they were doing. Everything they do seems to have to be redone. I sure hope the new plantings will survive and thrive — but not at the cost of the ducks and other wildlife.

  3. This breaks my heart, Hopefully they will figure something out – soon. =/

  4. Have to chime in, and some of you aren’t going to like what I will write, but feel it’s necessary because I witnessed it first-hand — on opening weekend fowl were already in the netted areas, and a self-identified PETA member went around lake and opened holes in netting, believing he was doing right thing. These were adult fowl he believed he was rescuing, no ducklings.

    Netted areas now have openings near shore and in lake, prop opened by people on the paddleboats. Have to also say that if no one had opened the netting there wouldn’t have been a problem with ducklings.

  5. I’ve seen mothers and ducklings separated twice in last few days. Terrible and heartbreaking. I love the new park, but too often it seems like the city has just abandoned managing it beyond emptying trash cans and occasionally mowing.

    • So typical for Los Angeles. The city allocates enormous amounts of money to building things, but then no money to maintain or take care of them. And no one ever seems to take responsibility. So wasteful and destructive. .If a private landowner did this, wouldn’t they get charged with animal cruelty?

      • Yr both right — Vince Montalvo of EP was at every meeting during the project’s construction, asked for more of us to come, asked where will money come from for upkeep? kept pointing out how no O money was allocated/set aside for future…

        So — hello — future is here.

  6. I was told today of a new set of chicks that has befallen the same disaster as the ones pictures here. A terrible drama is playing out with one day off the nest chicks separated from their mother by the nets, with doomed chicks unable to connect with distressed mother.

    City agencies should at least be concerned about illegal trapping of wild birds with their nets, or the liability they may face when members of the public descend in to the water and netting in an attempt to rescue the distressed birds.

  7. PETA, with it’s fancy new offices in Echo Park, hasn’t done a thing about this situation… but they will gladly take your donations.

  8. Hillster, you know this how?

    Actually, PETA has talked to the city about this before and is again dealing with this issue. Please don’t just spout off things you know nothing about. Thanks.

    If anyone sees ducks struggling or stuck, please call animal control, or untangle them, don’t just take a photo and walk away.

  9. Please please PETA help and do something

  10. I talked to another park ranger and the best way to get the netting taken down would be to contact the maintenance crew for the park at: 213-250-3578. I’ve called and left a message, but let’s try to get someone on the phone so we can rectify this before other ducklings get stuck.

  11. You will all hate me for this but it’s not like mallards are an endangered species. We need to protect the plants from their greedy pato bills. The obvious solution is fix the netting so the adults can’t get in at all.

    By the way, I’ve seen adult birds sitting on TOP of the netting. Nice little hammock!

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