Local tech writers hope to save Borland ducklings: Property managers plan to drain manmade ponds leaving ducks high and dry

Santa Cruz Sentinel

SCOTTS VALLEY – At the mucky edges of a half-drained, small pond, a family of young mallard ducklings, too young to fly, meandered Monday unaware that a handful of concerned local tech writers are anxiously working to find them a new home.

“The little tiny babies and their mother were on the other side of the pond sitting there very forlornly,” said Kris Houser, who has fed the ducks who nest each spring at the shore of a lush manmade pool on the former Borland property in Scotts Valley.

The pond of recycled rainwater is at the end of a stream that springs forth from the lobby of the Enterprise Technology Centre at 100 Enterprise Way, a building that once housed hundreds of employees but currently has a quiet lobby serving a sparse contingent of small companies. For years, the stream meandered below a black glass wall and gurgled into lush fountains and meditative gardens before pooling behind the 400-square-foot business complex. Employees of the tech companies regularly feed the ducks.

Fountains at the complex stopped running earlier this year and pumps that once kept water circulating in part of the pond have not been entirely operational for awhile, according to Houser and other previous tenants. Enterprise Centre tenants received notification earlier in the month from property managers at Grubb & Ellis that the pond would be drained. Since then, Houser and other duckling fans have been calling around the county to find a way to postpone the pond draining at least until the ducklings are mature enough to fly. They have contacted several rescue groups but have not yet found a solution.

Houser said she tried unsuccessfully to convince Grubb & Ellis to keep the ponds full for one more month, which she says would be long enough for the ducks’ wings to fully fledge allowing them to fly away.

“I think the mother is going to sit there until the babies die, then fly away,” she said. “Really what we need is someone who wants to help these ducks.”

Keeping the pond full temporarily would help the ducks survive to adulthood, said Janet Major, another tech writer who used to work for Borland.

Houser, Major and others are weighing the possibility of trying to catch the ducks and move them to a new location or somehow encourage them to relocate down a nearby steep embankment to a creek. Houser said two families of slightly older ducklings seem to have disappeared since the pond began draining last week.

Santa Cruz County Animal Services officials promised Monday to investigate the issue but typically the agency focuses on the needs of domestic animals, referring wild rescues to Native Animal Rescue or the state Fish and Game division, said Lynn Miller, general manager.

Calls and e-mails to Grubb & Ellis were not returned Monday.

Ideally the ducks will find a home in a similar situation since they are unlikely going to be able to fend for themselves in the wild, said Patrol Lt. Don Kelly of the California Department of Fish and Game.

“When people start feeding the ducks, they become domesticated. Even if they’re a wild strain, they get used to being fed,” Kelly said. “They are essentially sentencing these animals to death because they water down the natural instinct to succeed on their own.”

The ducks, which occasionally landed among lap swimmers in the fitness center at the back of the property, brought challenges as well as joy to tenants, said Abigail Allen, assistant general manager of Club One Scotts Valley.

“People are sad. It’s beautiful property,” Allen said.

Gary Staas, a contract tech writer at Embarcadero Technologies, a spinoff of Borland described it as the passing of an era.

“One of the highlights during the day was to go feed the ducks and watch the ducklings,” he said.

This article appears online here.

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