AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the past 11 years, Katy Sepeda has made her way to the duck pond on the outskirts of Austin’s Arboretum several days per week to feed to ducks a combination of cracked and whole corn.
Nearly four years ago Tracy Su got the same idea, and together the two started feeding the ducks. Sepeda came when she could, Su went back and forth multiple times per day.
However, in September the two started noticing birds were missing. At first just a few, then dozens.
In the time since, their numbers have kept dropping, and the two worry it’s only a matter of time before all the ducks are gone.
“At one time we had 95 ducks, right now we’re sitting on maybe 44,” Sepeda said.
Convinced someone was stealing the ducks, Su purchased a motion-activated surveillance camera and hid it in the bushes near the pond.
After weeks without any results, Su finally got the evidence she’d been looking for.
On Nov. 3 her camera took two photos of two men running away from the pond, one with a duck in hand. The camera also recorded a short video of them leaving.
“These guys aren’t going to stop, they aren’t going to stop until they’re all gone,” Sepeda said.
Su took her video to Austin police but said officers seemed more concerned about how she obtained the video.
“They thought it was an invasion of privacy for humans,” Su said.
Su pulled the cameras and instead started a pond patrol. She and Sepeda spend most nights staking out the pond, and even went so far as to put up a large poster that reads “report duck thief to police.”
“Usually on the nights that we do these stakeouts we don’t lose any ducks,” Su said.
The women aren’t completely sure why the thieves are stealing the ducks, but believe it’s to sell them.
They’re vowing to keep coming out to the Arboretum pond as long as there are ducks to defend.