Trapper shoots, kills ducks in Waterford Lakes subdivision, and it's legal

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Rene Stutzman

Published August 14, 2016


Sue Bigsby awoke about 5 a.m. today to the sound of gunfire.

"Pop, pop, pop, pop," she said.

Outside, a man sitting in his pickup truck was picking off Muscovy ducks one at a time at a lake in the middle of Waterford Lakes, a subdivision east of Orlando.

An Orange County deputy — his gun drawn — put a stop to it, but the man wasn't doing anything improper, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jane Watrel.

The Waterford Lakes Community Association had hired him, she said, and shooting Muscovy ducks on private property is legal.

The association had told members that it was paying a trapper to humanely catch and relocate the the red-faced ducks, residents said. It had said nothing about shooting them.

That was not supposed to happen, said association general manager Ken Zook, but the contractor, Jason Levinson, owner of Animals Beware in Mount Dora, changed strategies on his own.

Zook described it this way: "Apparently this morning the trapper decided he was having an issue with seven remaining ducks, which were extremely elusive the last 45 days, and took it upon himself to euthanize the ducks with a gun."

Levinson killed three, Zook said. Four escaped and were somewhere in the neighborhood.

A two-man crew in a boat that was working with Levinson picked up the cadavers, Bigsby said.

Levinson did not return phone calls. Zook fired him today, he said. The contract was worth $5,500, Zook said.

Muscovy ducklings that earlier were relocated from Waterford Lakes

Association officers and volunteers had gone to pains to hire a company that would humanely relocate the ducks, said resident Stephanie Chandrasekaran.

Levinson had done that — until today, Zook said.

The trapper had captured 149 ducks and taken them to a farm in Clermont, Zook said. Left behind were the seven renegades.

Collectively, the invasive bird species had become a nuisance earlier this summer, residents said, when their number spiraled out of control, and they were befowling a gazebo and other recreation areas.

Bigsby, 63, confronted Levinson shortly after 5 a.m., she said. It was still dark outside, she said, when she knocked on the truck's window.

"I asked what the hell he was doing. He said he was shooting ducks. … 'I'm doing my job. … I'm just finishing up.'"

She said, "It doesn't seem like a very sane way to deal with things, and it doesn't seem like a very safe way."