Lake Elsinore duck sanctuary prepares to take in abandoned Easter ducklings

Many of the ducks at Howie Berkowitz's sanctuary have arrived starved, maimed, and dying.

Leticia Juarez Image
Sunday, April 2, 2023
SoCal duck sanctuary prepares to take in abandoned Easter ducklings
It turns out a lot of people buy ducklings during Easter not knowing they can be more than one can handle once they get older, so a man is working to save those ducks before it's too late.

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (KABC) -- Howie Berkowitz didn't set out to devote his life's work to water fowl, it just kind of happened.

"It started off with five ducks," he said.

Then he got a call from a feed store he bought his chicken feed from.

"One day, she called and said, 'Oh, I have five ducks that were just surrendered, would you take them?'" he recalled.

Now, a decade later, Berkowitz cares for more than 100 ducks at his nonprofit sanctuary,The Duck Pond of Elsinore.

"I love these animals," said Berkowitz. "I tell this every day to people, when you look in the eye of these animals, they have a soul and they look at you and they know you are caring for them."

At his one-and-a-half-acre Lake Elsinore property, Berkowitz is tackling mating season by carefully separating his ducks, but even this won't prevent the ducklings he'll soon be caring for.

"Spring season is the worst time for us," he said.

That's because he knowns those fuzzy, cuddly, and adorable ducklings bought at feed stores for Easter will quickly be abandoned.

"Please, don't buy them because what will happen eventually you won't want them anymore because they are a nuisance," said Berkowitz. "They are not the best pets in the world, people will take them to parks and lakes and leave them there."

Many of the ducks at his sanctuary arrived starved, maimed, and dying.

"Ducks that you buy at any kind of feed store are going to be domestic ducks. So, they cannot fly, they have no defense mechanism, and they really don't know how to forage for food," said Berkowitz.

While the ducks he takes in are thriving under his care, it also takes hundreds of dollars to feed, water, and provide all the necessities they need daily.

"I've been doing this for 10 years, I just became a 501(c)(3). Basically, I've sold my assets to take care of them," he said.

He is in the process of trying to buy a five-acre property in Wildomar to expand his operations and provide a forever home to the abandon water fowl. He has set up a GoFundMe if anyone is interested in helping the sanctuary.