A new bylaw in Smiths Falls, Ont., is banning the act of scattering crumbs and seeds for birds and other wildlife in public parks and on private property.
The motion passed town council unanimously this week, and violating the new rule comes with a potential $150 fine.
Coun. Jay Brennan advocated for the motion after receiving complaints from a resident who’d been cleaning up after his neighbour kept feeding seagulls and squirrels
It’s not like we’re combing the streets for people giving a squirrel a peanut.– Jay Brennan
“There was [excrement] on his car and everything,” Brennan said.
Brennan said the bylaw will be applied with discretion to make sure people can enjoy their own property.
“It’s a complaint-driven bylaw. It’s not like we’re combing the streets for people giving a squirrel a peanut,” he said. “It’s not draconian or anything like that in my view.”
‘It’s nature, live with it’
The town has also been trying to discourage people from feeding swans that had been introduced to control the geese population.
Chris Gray lives near one of the parks where the town’s swans gather. She said there are bigger issues than bird droppings — like citizens not picking up after their dogs.
“It’s a waste of time and energy and resources,” she said.
“They feed in the trees. They’ll eat the berries and stuff, and then they fly over and they crap all over everything. What are you going to do about that? It’s nature, live with it.
Can turn birds ‘aggressive’
Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow said an excess of seagull droppings can pose health risks, especially for children and pets.
He said the bylaw is meant to keep wildlife from becoming dependent on people, and encouraged residents to “let the animals look after themselves.”
“You want the birds to be able to survive on their own. If you’re feeding geese, you’re feeding swans and you’re feeding seagulls and you’re feeding pigeons, you’re going to attract them to come back to a certain place,” Pankow said.
“They can get aggressive — especially geese.”
Pankow said the new rule includes an exemption for bird feeders for songbirds, although they must contain bird feed only and be properly maintained to not attract other animals.
The City of Ottawa already prohibits feeding wildlife in public parks, with a potential fine of $260 including the victim surcharge.
The city says it doesn’t have a specific bylaw for feeding on private property, although maintenance and property standards rules may apply.