Feral, domestic muscovies are abundant in Florida, particularly in residential and park situations. These birds were released primarily by private individuals for ornamental purposes or as pets. Domestic muscovies continue to create nuisance problems throughout the state. To our knowledge, no populations of wild-strain muscovies have been established in Florida.
Muscovies are protected by Florida Statute 828.12 regarding animal cruelty. However, because these birds originated in Florida from domestic stock, they are not considered "wildlife." As of March 31st, 2010 a federal control order is in effect that allows control by landowners, wildlife management agencies, and tenants, agents, or employees without federal or state permits, and prohibits the release of muscovies. More information may become available (FAQ) on this website: http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds.
Muscovy ducks have been introduced into urban and suburban areas in Florida where they often occur in high densities. Muscovies can be extremely prolific, and local populations, if uncontrolled, can increase dramatically in a short time. As a result, controversies frequently arise between residents who enjoy the birds and residents who consider them a nuisance.
Domestic or captive-reared ducks, such as muscovies, can transmit disease to wild waterfowl. All confirmed outbreaks of DVE, also known as duck plague (a sometimes-devastating viral infection), in wild waterfowl have been linked to domestic or captive-raised waterfowl. Fowl cholera is another serious disease that is transmittable between domestic and wild waterfowl. Although we have had no major outbreaks reported yet in Florida, the potential for muscovies to spread disease to wild waterfowl remains a biological concern.
People often wonder about moving the problem muscovies to other areas. We consider feral domestic ducks to be undesirable in the wild because of their potential to transmit diseases to or interbreed with Florida's native waterfowl. To minimize these problems, Florida Statute 379.231 prohibits the release of exotic animals, including muscovies. Therefore, relocating muscovies into a wild situation is not a legitimate or appropriate solution to nuisance problems. You could, however, move muscovies to a captive situation where they would not come into contact with wildlife and would not escape.
Muscovy ducks, like other domestic animals, are considered private property. If someone claims ownership, the birds are the owner's to do with as he or she pleases, so long as Florida Statute 828.12 regarding animal cruelty is not violated. Similarly, if the muscovies have no owner, no state or federal law prohibits their capture and humane euthanization. This can be a last resort to resolve a nuisance problem.