For animal lovers, witnessing any animal being harassed is a distressing sight—whether or not the animal is wild or domesticated.
But things can get tricky if the harassment is coming from small children instead of adults.
Redditor LittleBearsie recently found herself in an awkward predicament, so she turned to the subReddit "Am I the A**hole" (AITA) to see if she was wrong for how she reacted, asking:
"AITA for 'stealing' ducks from small children?"
The original poster (OP) laid out what happened.
"Disclaimer: this is a very British and polite post, not a serious issue."
"I live near a duck pond that has one population of ducks (when there's food they all go to the same place, they don't split and go to different people)."
"I regularly feed these ducks, but today when I got to the pond there was a group of adults and children putting out seed already. No issue, I politely wait on the other side of the pond and take some pictures of other wildlife."
"Then the screams start."
"No one is being tragically murdered, the kids are shouting for the ducks to 'do something' and running towards them when they do come on land."
"This is super not ok for me so I threw down duck food on my side of the pond and hijacked the little beauts."
"Mother of the Brats loudly exclaimed to Father of the Brats that I was 'a bit bloody cheeky' and 'stole the ducks' from her kids. Loud enough for me to hear but obviously not aimed at me (polite and British - no confrontation)."
"I understand I did 'steal' them, but I just don't like children being taught it's ok to harass animals."
"AITA for duck stealing."
After her post took off, the OP added some extra information about feeding ducks in the UK.
"I wasn't expecting so many people to appreciate Duck Tales! Thank you for the awards, and thank you comments which have made me laugh so much."
"For those of you saying we shouldn't feed ducks so I'm an a**hole for that, it's absolutely not frowned upon to feed ducks in the UK provided you are feeding them the right stuff."
"Check the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) website (or your country's equivalent) for a full list of duck-friendly food (and obviously respect the duck's personal space)."
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You're The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They assured the OP that she was right to look out for the everyone's best interests.
"NTA. Rescuing the ducks from a group of little twits can hardly be considered a**holery."—Dustin_Riley
"NTA you diverted the ducks away from what could have been a bad scene."—Imhere4allthedramass
"No kidding. Ducks may look cute but they can be pretty brutal when they have to be. Or want to be."
"Ducks can be AHs and their bites can get pretty nasty."—SquirrelGirlVA
"I had a pet muscovy duck when I was younger, she was like a feathered, not potty trained puppy most of the time, but sometimes that typical 'I am an angry birb and I don't know why but *AAAAA*' instinct would kick in and she could leave bruises with her bites."
"She also gave me a pretty nasty cut on my hand once from one of her talons, but that one wasn't intentional, the clumsy dummy lost her balance while perched on my wrist / hand, forgot she had wings, and dug her claws in as she started to fall. (I caught her before she came close to hitting the ground)."—spirality5
"NTA, and as a Canadian I just want to say that had a group of children been acting that way around Canada geese this story would've had a much different ending."—JuniusBobbledoonary
Some commented to add their own tales of witnessing kids' cruelty toward animals.
"Man, I once lived in an apartment complex with ducks – the ducklings were outside my building while I was walking my dog, and a couple of neighbor kids were out screwing around with them."
"That dog hadn't a mean bone in his body, and desperately loved *everyone* – except for that kid and his older brother, and all because of the ducks."
"He watched him stomping around like he was trying to squish the ducklings, and he absolutely *lost his sh*t*. I had a handle on him, so he wasn't going to get the kid, but Christ I'd never seen him so mad, at any other point of his life."
"I almost felt bad for the kid, as he couldn't have been more than five or six, but he straight up fell over and screamed bloody murder. His brother – ten or so – grabbed him and they ran, but probably because he was more afraid I'd tell their mom than anything else."
"It's probably my fault, though – I'd seen his brother smacking the adult ducks with sticks and sh*t on a few dog walks prior and had yelled at him to stop f*cking with the ducks."
"He was a pretty intuitive dog as many are, and he got very protective of the ducks after that. He loved the ducklings the most, he used to lay down so that we couldn't walk anymore while they'd walk by, and he'd just watch. Miss that little f*cker."
"Digressing a bit, but the mother, hearing someone chew her son out, once demanded to know why I was yelling at her son, so I repeated myself: The kid needs to stop harassing the ducks, he was hitting them with sticks and sh*t."
"Never mind the cruelty to the birds, if he does it enough he's going to get mobbed and they aren't *nice* birds when they finally get sick of people f*cking with them."
"Her only reaction was to turn around and storm inside, yelling 'BOY WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT LEAVING THEM DUCKS ALONE!' I felt pretty bad after that, as I'm sure he got a heavy beating as a result, and I wouldn't be surprised if sh*t like that was why he was taking his anger out on the ducks."
"Never pointed anything out to her after that, but boy did the duckling incident put a full stop to them messing with the ducks. 😂 I suppose if fear of mom doesn't work, there's always putting the fear of dog in them."—SandyDelights
"Hard NTA. We have a restaurant here with a really big pond out front and just... SO MANY ducks."
"They stay there the entire year because the guests feed them. The restaurant provides seed for you so the guests aren't giving them bread and other stuff that is bad for them. The ducks will walk right up to your feet no problem."
"Anyway they have signs posted all over the area saying please do not chase or yell at the ducks, it stresses them out. Unfortunately some people refuse to reprimand their kids crappy behavior but most of the time it's alright."—Selenthiax
They agreed that the parents should know better than to allow that kind of behavior from their kids.
"NTA. Those kids suck and their parents are worse. The other day I was out walking and rerouted myself to avoid an on-edge swan."
"On the way back adults were allowing their small children to approach the same swan, 2 ran away when it started to get agitated but the 3rd kid (who was old enough to know better) kept going toward it, and god how I wished it had just launched itself at him to maybe teach them all a lesson."—riano25
"Lmao, as a british person, this was the complete right thing to do. NTA and if the children do approach you about stealing the ducks, educate them because the parents clearly won't. You're not duck stealing, you're duck saving."—xX-i-am-a-reject-Xx
"To be honest, that kind of politeness is the most annoying part of the British culture. NTA, parents should always teach kids to be respectful to animals."—massivemusicsucker
The OP later commented with a possible solution for the future.
"We have signs in the woods saying 'why are you dropping litter here?' And one of the options listed is 'because I'm an idiot'."
"Given that they were genuinely funny I assumed they'd been made by a neighborhood vigilante but it turns out they were genuinely put up by the council."
"I'll contact them about the duck signs!"
Here's hoping the ducks are able to get the respect they deserve moving forward—from adults and kids alike.