Mahone Bay introduces bylaw banning feeding of wildlife


Mahone Bay recently passed first reading of a new bylaw prohibiting the feeding of non-domesticated animals and, as one councilor predicted, there are people upset with the prospect of being fined for giving Rocky or Bambi a treat.

"What a waste of taxpayers' money," noted Clearway Street resident Lloyd Westhaver in written correspondence to the town.

"I am sure the raccoons will still roam through the town looking for handouts as they did all my life. The deer will roam the town to feed as there are so many lush lawns in town to feed on and hostas to eat plus another two dozen plants they love. What is the next step, not [being] allowed to grow certain plants in your garden?"

Mahone Bay moved on proposed legislation after the local garden club complained earlier this year about deer feasting perennial planting.

The first reading passed in May but there was no mention of when second and final reading would take place before the matter becomes law.

Under the bylaw, if passed, someone found to be in violation would face a summary offence ticket of at least $50, and up to $1,000.

Backyard bird feeders would be exempt, but the unit and seed debris would need to be removed if it "is determined to be the cause of a public safety threat or nuisance."

Wildlife is defined as "any animal that is not domesticated."

After Councillor Penny Carver asked about the wildlife definition, Councillor Joseph Feeney admitted he is not a fan of trash pandas.

"As long as raccoons [are] the number one animal on the list, Councillor Carver can make the list as long as she wants," he said with a laugh during the council meeting when the matter was discussed.

Meanwhile, Westhaver said taxpayers' money should be spent on things the town needs.

"Sometimes I wonder what the brain process is," he said in the undated note. "If you love this town and want it to make it your place to bring up your children, do like we all did, keep it this way ... one [or] two complaints does not require a new bylaw."

However, Feeney said some residents are frequently feeding wildlife, conditioning the animals in the process to keep coming back to an established food source.

Other municipalities in the region have grappled with the same issue over the years.

The Town of Lunenburg, for example, passed a bylaw in 2017 prohibiting the feeding of wildlife. Anyone who commits an offence faces fines of at least $50 and up to $1,000.

Meanwhile, the Town of Bridgewater last dealt with this issue in 2014 when a proposed bylaw died on the council table. Had the bill been passed, violators would have faced fines of at least $100 and up to $1,000. The issue gained some traction at the time after citizens raised concerns about incidents of intentional feeding of raccoons in a neighbourhood on the northwestern side of town.

Back in 2006, a Bridgewater resident called on the town to pass a bylaw banning people from feeding undomesticated birds, such as crows and pigeons, but that request didn't arouse much political interest.

Councillor Richard Nowe wondered about the ability to enforce such rules, describing another existing Mahone Bay bylaw as an example.

Westhaver said wildlife are in town and no bylaw will prevent that.

"Shame on you for even the thoughts of passing this bylaw," he wrote. "Haven't you even got a conscience, are you just thinking of yourself. You want to drive us elderly out of town, after we and our forefathers made this town, now you want people to love your decision on this?"

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