Council bans wildlife feeding in town limits

Duane Hicks

It now is illegal for Fort Frances residents to feed deer after council passed a bylaw Monday night to ban feeding wildlife except for birds, squirrels, and chipmunks.
The bylaw applies to all land within the corporate limits of the Town of Fort Frances.
No owner or occupier of land within town shall intentionally feed, cause to be fed, or make available food attractants (i.e., food products, pet food, feed, pellets, vegetables, grain, fruit, or salt) or other substances for the consumption of wildlife (meaning any animal which is wild by nature and not normally domesticated in Ontario, excluding birds, squirrels, and chipmunks) with the boundaries of Fort Frances, on either private or public property.
As well, no owner or occupier of the land shall place, or allow to be placed, any device (feed stands, salt blocks, etc.) for the purpose of attracting or feeding wildlife.
Anyone currently with these devices either shall remove them or modify such a device to prevent wildlife from having access to feed from it.
The bylaw, which would be enforced by the bylaw enforcement officers or OPP officers and carries a fine up to $5,000, shall not apply to:
•bird feeders using bird feed only;
•any natural product that is growing on a particular land owner or occupier where the wildlife is feeding;
•private vegetable gardens, flower beds, and related compost stations;
•licensed wildlife custodians who are the legal owner of the wildlife, and the wildlife is kept under a valid certificate or permit, and is in compliance with any provincial or federal permitting requirements; and
•registered and private land trappers, licensed bear management area operators, wild game farms, and wildlife or animal control agencies operating within the corporate limits of the Town of Fort Frances.
Only Coun. Ken Perry voted against the bylaw, saying earlier in the meeting that a reference to “domestic animals” under the definition of attractants in the bylaw should be amended since an attractant was defined as “any substance that could be reasonably expected to attract wildlife or domestic animals, or does attract wildlife or domestic animals, including but not limited to food products, pet food, feed pellets, vegetables, grain, fruit or salt.”
This implied to him that leaving pet food outside for your dog—food which potentially could attract other wildlife to your yard—would be illegal under the new bylaw.
“We shouldn’t have anything to do with domestic animals there at all,” Coun Perry noted, referring to the bylaw wording.
But Clerk Glenn Treftlin and several councillors felt the wording of the bylaw has everything to do with intent.
If residents were to use pet food to attract wildlife, they would be liable. If they were simply feeding their dog outside and it happened to attract a hungry bear, they would not.
Supt. of Planning and Development Rick Hallam added the bylaw wording is nearly identical to those already in place in Dryden and Kenora.
The bylaw came forth Monday night after the issue was reviewed by the Planning and Development executive committee.
The issue of feeding deer was brought forth last month by local resident John Nelson, who had concerns about vehicle/deer collisions, the destruction of gardens, and the possible spread of chronic wasting disease.
Nelson strongly encouraged town council to pass a bylaw to outlaw deer feeding, adding Dryden and Kenora already have such bylaws in place.
The basis of the bylaw is that the feeding of wildlife contributes to the destruction of private property and increases the potential for unpredictable, aggressive, and dangerous animals, the potential for contact and spread of infectious diseases, and the potential for vehicular collisions.