Residents want to protect ducks in Fairchance, PA
By Angie Santello
Sep 28, 2005

In light of the removal of signs she claimed protected the ducks at the Fairchance Community Park, borough resident Ermine Rowe has started a community watch program so residents can report harm to the ducks, some of which she said were injured or killed earlier this year.

According to Rowe, the signs that informed people a "24-hour pet watch" is operating at the park, were installed in June by Humane police officer with Noah's Ark of Fayette County Robin Moore with permission granted from Borough Council President Herb Myers.

Rowe said the signs have tremendously helped in curbing offensive activity at the park and she said she believes the parents of the children responsible for once harming the ducks need to keep in mind that certain residents of the community are vigilant in their cause to ensure the ducks are protected.

Rowe said in a prepared statement that after she recently moved to Fairchance and saw vandals destroying the community park and torturing and killing the ducks, she decided to do something about it.

Rowe said she contacted and had signs installed in the park that stated that harming the ducks was against the law and could lead to prosecution and a stiff fine.

The signs read, "No Rock Throwing at the Ducks" and "Animal Cruelty is a Crime, where persuasion and education fail, criminal prosecution will provide a remedy."

"These signs are worth their weight in gold," said Rowe in a statement. "Violence has decreased and the ducks are at peace once again."

Early in the summer, Rowe and patrons of the park said they witnessed youth stone the ducks and found a baby duckling squashed on the pond bank.

Rowe's daughter, Cindy Walkos of Hopwood, has followed in her mother's footsteps by taking an active interest in the community park and the ducks that live there. She said she has taken a duck to the wildlife rehabilitation center after someone injured it in the park, and, with other injured ducks, the center's president has given her advice over the phone on how to care for and treat the animals. One duck she received treatment advice over the phone for had a hook in its foot, Walkos said.

"We're trying to change the park," Walkos said.

President of Wildlife Works Inc. in Youngwood Beth Shoaf confirmed that she treated two ducks that were harmed in the park and consulted Walkos on how to treat another two ducks over the phone.

Concerned residents like Rowe are now upset that the signs have been removed.

"Now that the signs are down, the ducks don't have any protection," said Rowe. "We formed the Watchful Eye program to let these kids know there is still protection for the ducks. We're still watching the pond to stop children from the beating and killing them."

Other patrons of the park have joined Rowe's efforts.

"They have agreed to keep their eyes open and report any violence or mischief taking place in the park," Rowe said. "They agreed that this is a great idea. Perhaps other parks will want to use the Watchful Eye program."

Borough resident Kim Frazee said she wants to see that the ducks stay unharmed and in Fairchance. She said she has seen a 5-year-old child trying to hook the ducks before.

Borough resident Janet Allen said her participation in the Watchful Eye program was prompted by her witnessing one little boy trying to hook a white goose with his fishing pole.

Allen said the incident happened sometime last year before the signs went up.

"That's what we put up with here," Allen said, noting she often walks around the community park and has grandchildren who play sports there. "We don't need that type of stuff here."

Allen agreed with Rowe that the signs are helping and that the Watchful Eye program is "a step in the right direction.

"Ermine is going in the right direction," Allen said. "Someone needs to go through the park every day."

Rowe said she is doing everything in her power to save the helpless ducks and will settle on a compromise with the council.

"If they want to compromise and give Robin her signs and put up their owns signs, perfectly fine," Rowe said. "My main thing is to save the ducks.

"The children come to enjoy the ducks," she added. "The residents of Fairchance want signs, not violence.

"They want ducks at peace and if the council is not satisfied with Robin Moore's signs, I hope they will put up their own signs to protect the ducks."

Rowe points to her community service in Uniontown when she helped to save the city's Halloween Parade a few years back as an example that she is concerned about the place where she lives.

She lived in Uniontown when the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 47 announced they were discontinuing the annual Halloween parade because of lack of funds. Rowe and her family participated in the parade for 40 years.

"I knew how much this meant to the people," she said. "In a matter of five weeks, I had the parade back in progress."

Rowe said Froggy radio station 94.9 FM called her and offered to sponsor the parade that year and for years to come.

"Froggy donates $2,300 each year to the VFW," Rowe said. "That is the cost of the Halloween parade."

As far as her community involvement in Fairchance, Rowe said she will continue to fight against violence in the community with hopes to make it a better and safer place to live.

Rowe said by promoting a Watchful Eye program to monitor the park and succeeding in gaining the cooperation from local residents to help enforce the program, she has taken yet another step forward toward that end.