Town of Banff will consider banning bird feeders in 2019

Banff town council is considering whether to ban bird feeders in the townsite in the New Year.

'Bird feeders represent a human source of food which could potentially become a wildlife attractant'

In February, Banff's town council will debate whether or not to ban bird feeders within the town. (Yvon Theriault)

Bird feeders will be up for debate in Banff come February as the town's council decides whether banning the feeders will help minimize conflict with national park wildlife. 

Currently in Banff, bylaws do not prohibit bird feeders, however, use of bird feeders could be considered in violation of national parks regulations, which forbid feeding animals.  

Chris Fisher, biologist and author of Birds of Alberta, said Banff National Park is one of the best places in the province for birders. 

"Particularly in the wintertime and Banff townsite, because of the ornamental plantings, trees and shrubs that bear fruit but also the feeders," he said. "They serve as draws for not only many types of often difficult to observe birds, but also a community of bird watchers from Alberta and of course, from around the world."

In February, Banff's town council will debate whether to ban bird feeders come springtime. 

Darren Enns, manager of development services for the Town of Banff, said the idea stems from the human wildlife coexistence project — a joint effort between Canmore and all levels of government — which looks to minimize conflict between humans and wildlife in the Bow Valley. 

Could attract wildlife

It recommends the removal of wildlife attractants in the townsite.

"Bird feeders represent a human source of food which could potentially become a wildlife attractant within the community," said Enns. 

He said a good example of how the town is mitigating conflict with wildlife already is bear-proof waste bins, but they're always looking to improve.

"Over the years but certainly we're looking to re-calibrate our efforts and determine whether or not we're missing anything in bird feeders as one which seems to be an obvious area to move on from a regulatory perspective."

Public feedback sought

Enns said they're seeking any public feedback leading up to the February meeting, but said citizens of Banff are usually pretty easy to work with when it comes to these issues.

"Our community understands the importance of protecting the environment and our role as stewards of this piece of the National Park," he said. "I think generally there's strong support for initiatives that minimize impacts on wildlife in the town.

Fisher says a ban would mean fewer birds in the townsite, but it won't stop avid bird watchers from flocking to the park.

"Anyone who is interested in going to Banff as a premier birding destination will continue to do so.The opportunities are outstanding, world class and are not simply limited to a person's backyard," he said. "They literally range from the water's edge of the Bow River to the very tops of the alpine peaks."

Fisher said birds are found everywhere throughout Banff and the bird watching community is more than eager to travel to great lengths to view them.

But, said those who have enjoyed it in their backyards for years, will likely miss it.

"It will likely have a small impact on on the quality of life of some of the residents who greatly enjoy it but there are so many other opportunities to see birds around Banff so they'll find other places to go to experience."

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alberta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

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