“I question the need for a bylaw like this,” said Councillor Ian Walker during the February 16 council session. “I question how to regulate it.”
Council is considering a “Do Not Feed Wildlife” bylaw that would also include certain species of birds classified as “pests” like pigeons, gulls, and crows that “become a nuisance and may cause damage to properties” when they flock together in large numbers.
The issue dates back to November 2020 when council received a petition asking for a “do not feed wildlife bylaw” from several homeowners in the Domaine Street neighbourhood in the Village of Lefaivre. They complained that two people in their neighbourhood were feeding various kinds of wildlife and justifying their actions by claiming that the local animals lived in the area before any humans did.
Now, the complainants said, their own properties have suffered damage and their own pets are at risk from the wild animals that have become used to thinking of their neighbourhood as a “feeding area”. The property damage includes bird dung from gulls splattering onto roofs, windows, patio furniture, and boat covers, and onto vehicles parked outside.
Some wild animals have damaged gardens and lawns, and neighbourhood dogs have frequent encounters with skunks. One concern for area residents is that raccoons, skunks and squirrels that get used to finding food in the neighbourhood may also be potential carriers of rabies.
Township staff drafted a bylaw that would forbid feeding certain kinds of wildlife, including “pest birds”, within the municipality. Besides the birds defined as “pest birds”, the bylaw specifies skunks, raccoons, foxes, groundhogs, bears, and deer as examples of wildlife that residents should not feed. The bylaw also forbids leaving any food leftovers or insecure garbage or compost containers outside that wild animals could scavenge.
The bylaw would not forbid setting out bird feeders for small songbirds like cardinals, sparrows and such or penalizing homeowners if some wildlife or birds feed on berries and nuts that grow on bushes and trees in the neighbourhood.
Councillor Walker suggested the township let the Ministry of Natural Resources deal with people who create problems by feeding wild animals.
The proposed bylaw will come up for further review and discussion during a future council session.