Piles of meat being dumped at Mississauga parks to attract wild animals

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Published March 28, 2023 at 10:59 am

Large chunks of meat are being dumped in parks and greenspaces across Mississauga, including at Settler's Green Park in the Meadowvale area of north Mississauga.

Raw and cooked meat, including large beef roasts, ground beef and pulled pork in addition to “piles of chicken” are being increasingly and illegally dumped in parks and greenspaces across Mississauga to attract wild animals, and City officials say the potentially dangerous behaviour must stop.

The latest of the widespread incidents, which date back nearly a month and have left City of Mississauga Animal Services staff scratching their heads given the dramatic rise in the number of such incidents, was reported yesterday (March 27) when the City received word that “a ball of meat” had been dumped in Settler’s Green Park in Meadowvale this past weekend.

“The resident (who reported it) referred to it as being as big as a bowling ball,” Animal Services public education officer Parathan Mohanarajan told insauga.com in an email.

Mohanarajan added that in many cases, dog food is being similarly dumped in parks across the city, also in an effort likely intended to attract coyotes, foxes, raccoons, wild turkeys and other critters.

As for the meat being dumped, the City says it’s not talking about a small morsel of beef here, pork there.

“The food that Animal Services has observed does not look like table scraps or leftovers from a meal,” Mohanarajan said. “We often receive calls for members of the public dumping peanuts or other nuts, bird seed or bread, (but in these cases) Animal Services has documented large amounts of meat and dog food in a number of areas.

“There have always been concerns of members of the public dumping food to attract wildlife in the City’s greenspaces, trails and parks,” Mohanarajan continued. “However, Animal Services has not seen this level of wildlife feeding where large amounts of food are being dumped over a sustained period of time across Mississauga. These don’t appear to be isolated incidents…We have not seen this type of behavior on a wide scale like this in such a short time frame.”

Coyotes are among many wild animals in Mississauga that would be attracted by the dumping of meat and other food.

Adding to the City’s concern is that a number of residents don’t seem to get the message as evidenced by posts on social media that encourage the illegal behaviour.

“We have also seen social media messages promoting the feeding of wildlife, specifically predatory animals like foxes and coyotes,” Mohanarajan said. “It’s difficult to determine what motivates individuals to carry out these types of actions. We continue to actively educate and outreach to the community to communicate the dangers associated with this type of activity.”

Animal Services officials note that widespread attempts to feed wild animals aren’t just an issue for them, but it’s a community-wide concern. As such, they say they’re working with City councillors, community groups and schools to raise awareness in efforts to eliminate the behaviour.

“We have increased signage across the city reminding people to not feed wildlife and have also stepped up our enforcement to address these concerns,” said Mohanarajan, adding violation of the City bylaw carries a minimum fine of $300. “We continue to encourage residents to report these concerns to Animal Services. Resident can also submit wildlife feeding reports on our Interactive Coyote Map.”

Animal Services officials say the feeding of wildlife does more harm to the critters than anything else and leads to more potentially dangerous interactions between the animals and people as they lose their natural fear of humans.

“They begin to see people as sources of food and depend on them for food and (they) don’t search for food naturally,” officials say. “Wildlife could act aggressively, almost as a signal to feed them. Unfortunately, when wildlife become food conditioned that is usually when we experience the most negative interactions between wildlife and people.”

The dumping of food to bring wild animals around can also attract unwanted pests like rodents and mice, officials add.

Additionally, wild animals gathering in larger numbers when food is easily available can lead to more diseases and could destroy natural habitats, Animal Services adds.

The dumping of meat at Settler’s Green Park, located near Glen Erin Dr. and Battleford Rd., was first reported earlier this month.

Anyone with information on meat being left in parks can call Animal Services at 905-896-5858.

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