READ OUR LETTER: Wildlife feeding in Burlington’s LaSalle Park

Squirrel at LaSalle Park by Brendon Jackson

This letter was sent to The Burlington Post and the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Burlington in Ontario.

It only took a few minutes while taking pictures of wildlife to determine something is off about LaSalle Park. Walking along the upper trail, chipmunks seemed to pose for the camera. Birds cocked their heads just right for a funny snap. Only a bunny dashed away.

Descending the stairs to LaSalle Park Road, however, was akin to stepping through the looking glass. Geese waddled up to people expectantly. Ducks wandered between knots of people without pause. And the cause was quite clear, quite quickly: feeding.

Only feet away from several “do not feed the wildlife” signs, two teenagers were feeding chipmunks by hand, attempting to pet them and take selfies. When approached and told it was illegal, unsafe, and that large animals suck as coyotes were in the area, they acknowledged the information, walked down the path, and, once caught up with, were seen repeating the behaviour.

A pair of women were feeding breads to waterfowl – not only inappropriate for the change in behaviour it creates, but dangerous as the breads can cause a fatal disease. A middle-aged couple walked along the boardwalk, tossing seeds to squirrels, chipmunks, swans, ducks, geese, and any other critters that may have been nearby.

We have read concerns about the presence and behaviour of coyotes in Burlington. We have also read that feeding wildlife – from chipmunks and geese, all the way to coyotes themselves – is often responsible for changings of behaviour in wildlife like coyotes.

It would behoove the City of Burlington to consider sending a by-law officer out-of-uniform to LaSalle Park, particularly along the boardwalk, to enforce the existing wildlife feeding by-laws. Even at the lowly cost of $135, it would appear that on a collection of sunny afternoons, the by-law department could easily ticket their way to providing their entire budget for the year.

Photo by Brendon Jackson

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