With provincial blessing in hand, the City of Victoria council has adopted new bylaws prohibiting people from feeding a variety of animals.
Last February, council gave first nod to prohibition on feeding gulls, crows and pigeons in the downtown core, as well as racoons, squirrels and feral rabbits anywhere in the city.
One snag held up the animal control bylaw, however. While municipalities have been given jurisdiction over most nuisance species, gulls require special permission due to their inclusion in the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.
On Nov. 1, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations gave Victoria’s proposed feeding ban the thumbs up. Council passed the bylaw Dec. 13.
Violators face a $125 fine for feeding most prohibited animals on the list – or $350 for feeding racoons or deer.
The fine won’t be the first line of defence, however.
“Our goal is to educate the public,” said Mark Hayden, Victoria’s manager of bylaw and licensing services. “This isn’t an arbitrary thing. There is a rationale behind it.”
Enforcement will be reserved for “individuals that aren’t getting the message for some reason,” he said.
Hayden estimates the city receives between one and two complaints per week during the summer season about people feeding animals.
A ban on feeding deer has been in place for years, but so far, nobody has been ticketed for the offence.