Everyday like clockwork, about 200 ducks gather in a parking lot outside a mall in Cranbrook, B.C. and wait to be fed by people passing by.
But the flock is creating problems for both mall visitors and themselves said Tamarack Centre manager Linda Birch.
Mall staff found seven dead ducks last week.
"We're not sure if it's a car hitting them or if someone is poisoning them or if the feeding from the humans is doing it," said Birch.
Birch says the mall is normally a pit stop for the ducks, who migrate further south during the winter. But it appears they have decided to stay put this year, causing a nuisance for drivers looking for a parking spot
City officials suspect it has something to do with the easy lunch the ducks get at the mall.
"We just got so many that the feeding of ducks is creating a really big issue," said Chris Zettle, spokesperson for the city.
"They're not meant to be living in the winter conditions and people feeding them bread and those sorts of things is not healthy for them either."
Who's feeding the ducks?
People who feed the ducks often aren't aware of how unhealthy it is for the birds, said Zettle.
"There's a number of seniors in town that like to feed the ducks. I think it's a therapeutic thing. It's just something to get them outside and feed the ducks."
Some families enjoy the activity as well.
"Sometimes we see parents pull up with their kids and then they sit and feed the ducks for five or ten minutes," he said.
Birch and Zettle agree that education is key to helping people understand the consequences that result from feeding the ducks.
Birch says mall security is on duck patrol — they will approach people they see feeding the ducks to raise awareness about the growing problem. Mall staff are even handing out pamphlets.
The city's hands are tied when it comes to issuing fines or tickets for duck feeding, because wildlife matters fall under provincial jurisdiction.
"So we do want to work with the province to see if there are some ways to politely discourage people from feeding the ducks," said Zettle.
City council plans to partner with WildsafeBC to create a wildlife education program this summer to spread the word about the city's duck problem. In the past, the program has focused on urban deer and bears.