Wild Carp Trust ends lease at Cowslip Pool

8 April 2023

The Wild Carp Trust has made the difficult decision to end its lease at Cowslip Pool.

The water, which was the Trust’s first conservation pool, has been badly polluted by ducks from a neighbouring shoot.

Wild Carp Trust chair of trustees, Fennel Hudson, explains: “I can barely describe the devastation felt by the Wild Carp Trust trustees and committee at having to give up our first conservation pool, that was until recently the jewel in the crown of our assets. Very sadly, the neighbouring shoot introduced 700 mallards onto the half-acre pond, which quickly ate all the aquatic weed and soft bankside vegetation, turning Cowslip into a muddy quagmire. Water quality tests showed that the deluge of faeces from the ducks had caused the nitrate levels to spike, turning the water toxic to aquatic life. (Safe levels are 0-20 mg/litre; Cowslip was measuring 250 mg/litre – the highest the test kit could register.) The food chain collapsed and the pool was suddenly no longer viable as a conservation pool for rare fish. The trustees and I decided that it was not good use of charity funds to rent a polluted pool, and so we have ended our lease. We remain on good terms with the landowner and have said that we would resume our lease at such point as we have an agreement that no ducks will be put down in future.”

To help put the situation into context, a duck defecates every 15 mins, producing an average of 90 poos per day for a total weight of 200g. So, 700 ducks produce 63,000 poos per day, weighing 142kg. Multiply this by six months and that’s 11,340,000 poos weighing over 2.4 tonnes (though would be less in reality, as there would be fewer ducks over time as they’d be getting shot).

Ducks introduced to Cowslip Pool by the neighbouring shoot caused atrocious damage to the pool and its surroundings.

The Cowslip Pool feeder stream, once clear and lush from the spring that feeds it, had become a filthy mire.

The biggest problem: 700 ducks had defecated everywhere, including in the water.

The fourth row from the top shows the nitrate level of Cowslip Pool after only three months of duck defecation. Anything over 20 mg per litre is unhealthy to aquatic life. Our readings showed between 100-250 mg per litre.