New Toronto by-law prioritizes wildlife

A picture of a raccoon
A raccoon (Procyon lotor) in a tree in Toronto, Ontario.
Photo by bukharova / Getty Images

A City of Toronto by-law puts wildlife health and needs first, and penalizes feeding of most wildlife in the Ontario megacity.

The updated by-law, which was adopted by City Council on July 20, 2023, reads: “Effective April 1, 2023, feeding wildlife will be prohibited across Toronto and on private properties. Feeding wildlife can lead to public safety issues and negatively affect wildlife and the broader ecosystem. It is also the most prevalent cause of any conflict between wild canids (i.e. coyotes, foxes) and humans and their pets.”

The Fur-Bearers applaud this by-law and believe it will benefit wildlife of all species.

Dr. Esther Attard, the chief veterinarian and director of Toronto Animal Services, told the Toronto Star that coyotes and foxes are “conditioned to expect food from people … They approach closer and are more curious because there may be a food reward.”

The types of foods offered can be hazardous to the health of wildlife, leading to issues like “tooth decay to increased reproductive capabilities,” Attard told The Star.

Further, feeding can lead to increased volume of animals in the same space – overcrowding – which can be responsible for outbreaks of illnesses. The Star reports that canine distemper virus in raccoons and avian influenza are of concern.

Bird feeders are still allowed on private properties for songbirds, but it must be kept clean and not attract other wildlife.

While media reports show opposition and concerns regarding the by-law, Dr. Attard told The Star the City’s focus is education. By-law officers will investigate complaint-based incidents and potentially fine residents. Anyone who witnesses wildlife feeding or violations of the by-law is asked to call the City via 311 to report it.

If you are worried about wildlife habitat and feed resources in an urban environment, consider rewilding part of your property or petitioning for more native planting to take place throughout your municipality. Creating habitat with native plants also provides food, safety, and long-term security to wildlife of all species. Click here to read more about wildflowers, wildlife, and rewilding from The Fur-Bearers!

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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