LAYTON -- The ducks in Layton Commons Park are being fed by the city.
But lately, their feeding schedule is being managed differently in response to the competing nature of the wide range of wildlife now calling the city park home.
Layton is working with Division of Wildlife Resources to manage the park wildlife, which has grown to include 30 to 50 resident ducks, foxes, raccoons, seagulls and about 50 migratory birds that fly in and out of the park at various times during the day, City Parks Superintendent Brock Hill said.
The park has a resident flock of domestic ducks that are in the park nearly year-round, and then the park sees a significant number of migratory birds, mainly geese, that winter here, Hill said.
"So managing that whole thing of how they interact and share food sources has been a challenge," he said. "And it isn't as easy as going out there and throwing out food."
What the city is now doing is reducing the amount of grain it provides to the flocks during the spring, summer and fall, so that the wildlife will forage for food and make the flock more healthy, Parks and Recreation Director Dave Price said.
"We enjoy these animals as much as our guests do," Price said.
He said managing the food better also keeps the park's rodent population down.
Adding to the complexity of the park's mini-ecosystem is the other wildlife in the park competing for the same food, as well as visitors who bring food into the park.
When visitors come into the park with food during the winter, the competition among the wildlife for that food becomes more intense, because there are fewer visitors.
"All of the animals are going to be a little bit more aggressive," Hill said.
Clearfield resident James Middleton was concerned that the city had stopped feeding the ducks in the park based on a recent experience he had there.
"There are hundreds of starving ducks. If you try to feed them, they overwhelm you very quickly," Middleton stated in a letter to the Standard-Examiner.
Hill said the public needs to understand that the city feeds the flock, but the way it does it has changed and consequently, the park wildlife may react a little differently to visitors who bring food into the park.
There also is a difference between the way resident ducks respond to park visitors wanting to feed them, he said, and how wild migratory birds respond to the feeding.
But city officials want to assure everyone that wildlife will remain part of the 50-acre Commons Park.
The park is a "jewel" for all of the public to enjoy, and the ducks living there are part of the park's ambience, Mayor Steve Curtis said.
Having a Clearfield resident share his concerns over the treatment of the ducks in the park, Curtis said, is a testament to the visitors the park attracts from across the entire community.