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A group of young mallard ducks walk near a pond at Mallard Cove Golf Course on Thursday. Head golf pro Derrick Smith released 14 ducks on Tuesday. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

A group of young mallard ducks walk near a pond at Mallard Cove Golf Course on Thursday. Head golf pro Derrick Smith released 14 ducks on Tuesday. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

Putting the mallard back in Mallard Cove

Last Modified: Saturday, September 01, 2012 6:54 PM

By Natalie Stewart / American Press

A local golf pro put the mallard back in Mallard Cove.

Derek Smith, who is the director and head golf pro at the course, released 14 mallards near the pond at Mallard Cove after raising them for two months.

Smith said when he started working at the golf course, more than eight years ago, there were nearly 45 ducks around the course and this year only two were left.

“It’s because of natural predators that are around here like alligators, bobcats and coyotes, why there were only two left,” he said. “I figured if someone was going to try and bring back the duck population, it might as well be me.”

This was the first time Smith — who started off with 24 eggs of which 16 hatched — has raised ducks, which he said is a “dirty job” and “pretty disgusting.”

“To have 16 ducks in your backyard for two months is pretty disgusting, actually,” he said “It was very messy and very smelly. They weren’t hard to raise, though — I just had to feed them and keep water for them. The hardest part was allowing them to keep themselves clean because I had to provide them fresh water often because they were so messy and they would make the water messy.”

Two of the ducklings died a few days after they hatched, Smith said, and one of the 14 released on the course died Wednesday.

Smith said the reasoning behind raising the ducks was simple: “The course is named Mallard Cove; it makes sense that golfers see mallards while they’re out playing golf.”

“I really think that it’s something the golfers enjoy seeing,” he said. “Since we were down to only two, I just thought I could give it a try and see how this whole process goes.”

Smith released the paddle of ducks Tuesday, when Hurricane Isaac was predicted to have an impact on Southwest Louisiana, because he thought they would have a better chance of survival.

“I wasn’t concerned with releasing them then because I figured, they’re ducks, these animals know what to do when the weather gets bad — they have instincts,” he said. “That’s why I decided to bring them out Tuesday. I figured if storm conditions got bad for us here that they would be better off if they were free to move around and find shelter rather than in a pen in my backyard.”

Smith said he goes out to check on the ducks every day.

“The day I released them I drove back to the pond where they were let go and they were still there,” he said. “I drove back there again Wednesday when it was really windy to see how they were doing and they were still by that pond. It’s pretty interesting to watch them, they have kind of stayed in their safe place where I released them for the past few days.”

It cost Smith $100 to buy supplies to raise the ducks, he said.

“I would spend that hundred bucks again,” he said. “It’s been fun to raise them and watch them grow. I’m really glad I did it because I really enjoyed doing it.”

Smith said depending on if this turns out to be a success in replenishing the duck population, he will do it again.

“Right now I want to see how this goes and if they can survive on their own,” he said. “Maybe I can get some ducklings out of this group.”

Smith said one thing is for sure if he raises more ducks to release — he won’t do it in his backyard.

“If this turn out to be successful I will do the same thing and get 24 eggs again and see how many hatch,” he said. “I won’t do it at my house again, though, because it’s just too messy. I’ll set up my little operation at the golf course and they’ll have more room, too.”

With current weather conditions, Smith said not many people have been out to the golf course to play, but some that have have noticed the ducks.

“I’m excited about people coming out and seeing them,” he said. “I sent out an email with a picture saying that I set them free and a lot of people have replied to me saying that it’s pretty cool and thanking me for doing it. I think people really care, especially when you do something nice that has to do with nature or animals.”

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