Nfld. & Labrador

Cap backyard bird feeders to help curb rats, says St. John's councillor

The proposed amendment would also ban the spreading of seed, or bread or food of all sorts, across all residential properties.

Changes would allow only 2 feeders per property, no feeding flocks

Bird feeders like this one could soon be limited in St. John's. (Joel Sowers/CBC)

One St. John's city councillor says backyard bird feeders should be capped and the spreading of bird seed should be banned to keep rats away. 

Ian Froude, who represents Ward 4, is asking his council colleagues to support his proposed amendment to the residential property standards bylaw.

"What the bylaw amendment would do is prohibit the spreading of seed, or bread or food of all sorts, across all residential properties with the intent of feeding flocks of birds or other wildlife, with an exemption to allow for feeding of small birds using bird feeders," Froude told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Limits on feeders

Froude said he, like others, has bird feeders in his backyard to provide some food in the winter months, but his proposal "would put some rules on it to help mitigate the issue of rodent feed."

If passed by council, the amendment would limit residents to two feeders per regular residential lot. Lots larger than 465 square metres would be allowed one more for each 465 square meters beyond that.

There's some properties with as many as a dozen, 20, or 40 or 50 bird feeders on a single property, and that causes a significant issue.- Ian Froude

Froude said it's meant to cut down on people with a large number of bird feeders, which can be a buffet of sorts for rats.

"The problem is — and it was brought forward — there's some properties with as many as a dozen, 20, or 40 or 50 bird feeders on a single property, and that causes a significant issue," he said.

Part of the issue, Froude said, is that the birds can be picky eaters.

"Much of the bird feed out there has filler in it, and birds have preferences to what they eat," he said. 

"So in a bird feeder, if the particular seed is not the preferred style for the bird, birds will kick it aside and it'll end up on the ground and that provides a food source for rats."

Froude says he's also had problems with rats reaping the benefits of bird feeders in his backyard. (Paula Gale/CBC)

Fines possible, similar to other bylaw infractions

While residents came to Froude to voice their concerns about the problem, he said it's something he's seen in his own backyard.

"A couple years ago, I had a couple bird feeders in my backyard, in an area that my kid played in my backyard and I saw that the birds were kicking it aside and I saw a rat eating a seed on the ground and I thought that I'd get rid of it to keep that out of my yard."

Froude said the proposed amendment to the bylaw was discussed in committee, and will come before council for a vote on Monday.

If passed, he said it would be enforced in the same way as other residential bylaw policies.

"A resident puts that forward, or a neighbour puts that forward and that's addressed through an enforcement officer visiting," said Froude.

"They get a certain amount of time to act and if not, there's a potential for a fine."

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

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