By Robert Janes
How would you feel if you were charged $5,000 for feeding the wildlife in your neighbourhood?
Before you continue reading you can stop clenching your fists because the animal control bylaw was recently revised by Kitchener’s city council for the good of our neighbourhoods.
The initial bylaw stated that those who feed the local wildlife – excluding birds and feral cats – could be fined up to a maximum of $5,000.
This was not put into place to fine families feeding geese at the park or those of us who have bird feeders in our backyards. Instead it was intended to curb critters that become a nuisance.
There are some animals such as pigeons that have adapted well within the newer ecosystem of the big city. However, animals like skunks, coyotes, rats and raccoons can become a big problem and a great expense.
After the revision of the bylaw, officials said it will now only be enforced if the feedings draw unwanted pests into areas where they could cause damage to properties and homes.
“The fine is the last resort,” Coun. Dave Schnider said in an Aug. 30 article in the Waterloo Region Record. “Bylaw staff are not going to be spying into backyards. It gives our bylaw team the ability to act in extreme cases where discussion and education have not achieved results.”
The council has listened to the outcry of the citizens and has taken action. But what side of the fence would you be on if there were rats infesting your streets or crawling through your ventilation to find that perfect spot to make a home within your own?
Or what about raccoons that get into your garbage before the garbage collector himself?
In the same Record article, resident Vicky Janetos said, “The food in garbage draws nocturnal animals into the city overnight … Put your garbage out in the morning and take the empty containers in the same night.”
This is not us versus the animals. In fact, the animal control bylaw will benefit both parties. It will benefit us in the sense that it will keep intrusive species that could damage our property and homes, or raise health concerns, from continuing to visit for daily or weekly feedings. But it also benefits the animals because they will not become dependent on us, or road kill.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.