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Feeding the eels a ‘no-no’

Masterton District Council [MDC] has issued a reminder that the eels in Queen Elizabeth Park don’t need extra sustenance after several dismembered pigeons were reportedly spotted floating in the water.

A recent visitor to the Masterton park noticed eight pigeons – or parts of pigeons – drifting on the surface of its lake.

A resident [who wanted to remain anonymous] told the Times-Age that he had deposited the dead birds in the lake to feed the eels.

“I often do it, not usually with pigeons but with other meat I’ve bought.”

He said that on this occasion, he had shot the pigeons [because they were pests] and preferred to feed them to the eels than dispose of them elsewhere.

An MDC spokesperson said the council doesn’t condone the dumping of material of any kind in recreational lakes, including Queen Elizabeth Park’s Lake of Remembrance.

“While the council does not hold information about the number of tuna [eels] in the lake, it is clear for anyone visiting the lake that numbers appear to be healthy, a sign that the water quality is good,” the spokesperson said.

“They can be readily seen feeding on the material available naturally in the ecosystem.”

While tuna [eels] act as cleaners of waterways, the spokesperson said that adding foreign matter to the lake runs the risk that it may be harmful to them, “or that remnants could rot in the water, affecting the water quality and having a potentially negative impact on other wildlife”.

“While the population currently appears to be at a healthy level, adding an additional food source into an ornamental lake runs the risk of creating an unsustainable population of some species.”

The resident responsible for putting the pigeons in the lake said he was disappointed with the council’s take.

“I understand about the pigeons, but don’t think it should apply to all feeding,” he said.

“I just thought it was a nice thing to do.

“It’s just nice giving them a helping hand, they’re fascinating to watch. “

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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