Feeding wildlife in Oakville could soon be prohibited

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April 18, 2023 at 3:25 pm

Oakville Town Council will be voting next week on a proposal to amend the Lot Maintenance By-law 2023-026 and prohibit direct and indirect feeding of wildlife. TOWN OF OAKVILLE PHOTO

Local residents will no longer be able to feed squirrels, wild rabbits or even deer if the Town of Oakville has its way.

At Council meeting set for next Monday (April 24), the Town will vote on a proposal to amend the Lot Maintenance By-law 2023-026 and prohibit direct and indirect feeding of wildlife, while allowing for the feeding of songbirds and hummingbirds in specific circumstances.

The amended by-law would forbid residents from giving food to any animals that belong to a species that is wild by nature and not limited to coyotes, foxes, deer, wild rabbits, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, skunks, and pests.

Providing food, says the Town’s report, is one of the main reasons conflicts can arise between wildlife and people, and can attract unwanted species to a property.

The current by-laws focus on garbage, waste and property standards, but do not regulate feeding wildlife, except for Parks By-law 2013-013 which prohibits feeding wildlife such as coyotes, waterfowl, geese and ducks in a park.

The Town, which supports a living with wildlife approach, believes a by-law forbidding feeding wildlife will be an important enforcement tool and act as a deterrent to do so.

It also excludes domestic animals, feral or stray cats.

Residents will no longer be able to furnish or make food or other substances that will be consumed by wildlife, feral or stray domestic animals.

Keeping compost in accordance with Lot Maintenance By-law or growing fruits and vegetables in gardens is permitted, although that does not include fruit and/or nuts that have fallen from trees.

The Town also points to other factors in their decision to amend the by-law.

Feeding the wildlife leads to potential dependency on people as a food source, can result in habituation and a change in behaviour (more aggressive), negative interactions with pets and humans as well increased public health concerns from the spread of disease and increased rodent activity and infestation.

It also can result in property damage by wildlife such as raccoons.

Several surrounding municipalities have adopted prohibitions on feeding wildlife, including Burlington, Guelph, Hamilton, London, Markham, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan and Toronto.

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