‘DON’T feed the ducks’ is the message from the borough council this week amid fears over people’s health.

Test Valley Borough Council has placed signs around the river frontage area near Town Mills asking people not to feed bread to the ducks in and around the area.

The council says while feeding the ducks can be an enjoyable experience, especially for young children, the amount of waste food that is left lying around on the pavements near the Town Mills area of the river Anton is becoming an eyesore and a health hazard.

The borough council’s community and leisure portfolio holder, Councillor Tony Ward, said: “We are trying to reduce the number of pigeons that are attracted to the bread and other food that is left for the ducks.

“It would help enormously if people stopped bringing food to the area as it is becoming a real health hazard.

“Although it may seem like a kind thing to do, feeding bread to ducks can actually be potentially dangerous for them.

“Bread is the equivalent of junk food for birds and, just as with humans, too much of it can lead to weight gain and malnutrition.”

The county’s wildlife conservation charity has also backed the borough council’s stance of calling for bread not to be fed to animals. saying it could also hurt the birds.

Martin De Retuerto, reserves manager for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s great that the local community are keen to help feed our birds, however if ducks and other waterfowl don’t get the right nutrients in their diet they can develop an illness known as ‘angel wing’.

“This can limit birds’ ability to fly and can ultimately threaten their survival. Uneaten, rotting bread and other food left by ducks can also fuel the growth of algae and this can eventually eradicate fish from the area.

“We’d urge people to think twice before taking bread with them when they go out to enjoy our brilliant local wildlife.”