A WOMAN responsible for stopping people feeding ducks bread says “she is not penalising fun”.

Ute Villavicencio, Epping Forest Centenary Trust’s new duck champion project officer, is tasked with educating people about the dangers of feeding waterfowl bread.

Her role, a six-month project, began in November. She works part-time and monitors ponds two days a week. 

Ms Villavicencio, a freelance environmental educator, claims the role is about educating rather than punishing people.

She said: “We are not penalising fun, we are trying to come up with alternatives.

“I don’t think it’s an authoritarian move. Local authorities are penalising bread feeding behaviour.

“We are not enforcers, we just want to get the message across that it’s not good for the ducks. People need to be aware of the effects on birds’ health and that leaving food attracts rats. 

“Throwing food in water pollutes it and other species like algae might not be able to thrive. We are trying to show the connection.”

Areas covered include Connaught Water in Chingford, Hollow Ponds in Wanstead, Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats.

The City of London Corporation, which manages the likes of Connaught Water, funds the role.

Ms Villavicencio, who lives in Walthamstow, expressed frustration at the way people feed wildlife without regard for the consequences.

She said: “I don’t get angry but what’s frustrating is seeing people empty their fridge or takeaway containers with rice or curry. 

“It’s just an easy way for people to get rid of food. When you want to interact with birds, think about what you do because dumping food is littering your environment.

“Mouldy bread makes them really ill and gives them botulism. I don’t know why people think it’s okay to feed them that. 

"People shouldn’t just throw bags of food down in the hope ducks might eat it all.”

The project officer suggested frozen sweetcorn, peas, salad leaves and grapes cut in half as alternatives.

Ms Villavicencio hopes people will be inspired to spread the message of her campaign once the trial is over. 

Her first public event is at Connaught Water on Sunday, January 28.