Feed a squirrel more than a cupful of nuts and you could walk away with a fine

There’s nothing legally wrong with feeding a squirrel a few nuts at Springbank Park, but bring out a cupful and you may soon walk away with a fine.

The ban would be on the “bulk feeding” of animals, which refers to quantities more than 250 ml — or a cup

City staff want to ban the “bulk-feeding” of animals, which refers to quantities more than 250 ml — or a cup. (D. Gordon E. Robertson/Wikimedia Commons)

There's nothing legally wrong with feeding a squirrel a few nuts at Springbank Park, but bring out more than a cupful and you may soon walk away with a fine.

City councillors voted on Tuesday to move forward on a staff recommendation that calls for a ban on the over-feeding of animals in city parks and natural areas. But not before staffers look into how this proposed ban could be imposed on private property.  

"We're trying to protect the animals. We're trying to protect the enjoyment of the park users as well," said Scott Stafford, managing director of parks and recreation.

"We don't want overfeeding of the animals, they end up congregating and they start to lose their natural skills. It's not great for the animals and it's not great for the people trying to enjoy the parks when there are flocks of geese or other animals on the pathways and in the park system," he added.

The ban would be on "bulk feeding" of animals, which refers to quantities more than 250 ml — or about a cup.

Enforcement

Excessive feeding of wildlife in the city has always been monitored and staffers are now taking a firmer approach by clarifying the rules since they were often ignored.

And how will the new rules be enforced?

Well, Stafford said the city will mostly rely on others to complain about scofflaws.

"It would be very difficult trying to enforce somebody throwing a few breadcrumbs or throwing a few seeds toward the wildlife," he said noting that bylaw officers will be out and about to patrol.

It's unclear how much the fines will cost, but Stafford said the numbers will be flushed out in a few months.