News / Halifax

Stop 'throwing pork chops to raccoons,' says Dartmouth councillor who wants feeding ban

Dartmouth councillor Sam Austin wants bylaw changes to ban people from feeding wildlife in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Five raccoons enjoying some feeding time in this file photo.

FELIX ADAMO / BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Five raccoons enjoying some feeding time in this file photo.

People feeding pork chops to raccoons and food pieces to pigeons has prompted a Dartmouth councillor to ask for bylaw amendments that prohibit feeding wildlife.

Coun. Sam Austin is making the motion to regional council on Tuesday. He’s asking for a staff report to look into making the amendments to HRM’s current animal by-law.

The bylaw currently prohibits feeding birds “on property adjoining bodies of water,” but no provisions restrict feeding wildlife.

Austin has made the request following complaints about pesky pigeons and raccoons being enticed to neighbourhoods by residents who regularly feed them.

"One homeowner is feeding raccoons and other neighbourhood critters and drawing a whole sizeable lot of them and they’re causing damage to neighbouring properties,” Austin said.

“When the fellow with the raccoon situation complained to the city and bylaw went out and looked at it, there is actually nothing they can do because there is actually no rule about feeding rats, raccoons, or whatever animal that you shouldn’t be feeding.”

Austin said there are many municipalities in Canada that have taken similar action because beyond the nuisance factor, feeding wild animals can spread disease to people and pets.

He stressed the motion would leave backyard bird feeders alone. Other cities with similar amendments have provisions for those.

“In the vast majority of cases that doesn’t have any impact on your neighbours or anyone else. It’s only when you’re getting giant flocks of pigeons or when you’re attracting in rats and raccoons that things go off the rails,” he said.

Austin said he was surprised to learn it’s currently okay to throw kitchen scraps into your backyard, considering that could attract unwanted wildlife that impacts neighbouring properties also.

“I have no idea what kind of conversation this will engender, but I’ll explain to council why I’m making the motion. Basically that I have residents throwing pork chops to raccoons, and we’ll go from there,” he said.

“I’m expecting I might get a little bit of reaction along the lines of ‘Is this something that council really needs to look at?’ But it is one of these things that really does have an impact on you once your neighbour is doing it and then it suddenly is rather important to you.”

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