Duck Named Conservation Ambassador

October 29, 2015

SAN RAFAEL, CA – Congressman Jared Huffman today announced that last Friday’s meeting with representatives from Bello Gardens Assisted Living Facility, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and WildCare to facilitate a resolution to get Juanita the Duck—a wild mallard taken in by residents at Bello Gardens—back to the assisted living home was a productive conversation for all parties. While final details are under negotiation, Juanita’s route back to Bello Gardens, where she has lived  since she was a baby duck the past two years, looks promising. Bello Gardens owners plan to use her as an ‘ambassador for conservation education’ in order to comply with federal rules and will comply with other requirements.

While it may seem silly to some, WildCare and the government agencies tasked with protecting wildlife have a serious role to play in making sure we don't harm the wild animals that call our region home,” said Huffman. "For our safety and for the animals' wellbeing, state and federal regulations prohibit people from treating wildlife as pets, and WildCare and the government agencies work tirelessly to educate the public about how we can safely coexist. In this case, we're all working together to find an appropriate and legal way for the mallard to live at Bello Gardens, and I appreciate all the parties' willingness to work collaboratively."

USFWS is tasked with ensuring compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and associated regulations. These regulations are in place to conserve and protect migratory bird populations for this and future generations. In an effort to meet USFWS Migratory Bird conservation regulations, Bello Gardens plans to apply for a Federal Migratory Bird Special Purpose Possession – Education Permit for Live Birds. As part of the process, they will either designate staff to undergo necessary training or preferably hire a person with the required experience to fill this new role at Bello Gardens.

Juanita has brought the seniors both purpose and joy. She has shown us how big one little duck can be.  We are happy to comply with the permit and understand the challenges involved.  The public has been wildly supportive and we are asking for assistance to find someone who might want to work with us. Please contact us if you or someone you know may be a qualified candidate,” said Bello Gardens’ owner Mark Bello.

Should Bello Gardens decide to train an existing staff member, WildCare is willing to assist with the training components of the permit. “WildCare is very happy to help Bello Gardens successfully receive the permit to keep Juanita as an educational wild animal. We look forward to seeing her returned to their care and to helping them craft their conservation message,” said Alison Hermance, WildCare Communications Manager.

WildCare tends to nearly 4,000 injured and orphaned wild animals in their wildlife hospital every year, including an average of 200 wild mallards. Their environmental education programs reach over 40,000 Bay Area children adults in the same period.

Bello Gardens is a local family-owned assisted living community. They are licensed care for 25 senior residents in San Anselmo.