Vancouver targets new feeding wildlife by-law

A raccoon (Procyon lotor) in Vancouver's Stanley Park. There are numerous, verified reports of people intentionally feeding many species of wildlife in the urban park. Photo by Ildiko Laskay / Getty Images

The creation of a new feeding wildlife by-law in Vancouver will create tools to prevent and mitigate negative encounters with animals. On March 31, 2021, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the motion brought forward by Councillor Pete Fry. The timeline for the implementation of the new by-law remains unclear.

Lesley Fox, Executive Director of The Fur-Bearers spoke in support of the motion alongside Dr. Sara Dubois of the BC SPCA.

As tempting as it is to get close to nature by feeding wildlife, there are negative consequences and effects. When a wild animal is directly or indirectly fed by people, it begins to change their behaviour. Be they a squirrel, a raccoon, a coyote or any one of the many wild animals who call Vancouver home, they start to take risks.

Wildlife will cross busy roads they would otherwise avoid, because of a high-value reward; they will hang out and approach people, expecting a reward, because that’s what people are teaching them to do. The pattern is the same as how we treat domestic animals in our homes: we provide food rewards with the expectation that they will continue this behaviour.

The trouble is that some people may not recognize these far-reaching consequences. And that’s why we support wildlife feeding by-laws.

A wildlife feeding by-law is a two-sided tool; in an educational context, it provides clear, consistent messaging about feeding wildlife throughout the city and the consequences of doing so; in an enforcement context, it gives the City of Vancouver a tool that can be used when necessary to curb behaviour that is leading to public health and environmental problems. Cities and towns of all sizes across North America have instituted wildlife by-laws, which have allowed them to successfully prevent negative encounters from escalating.

At its core, feeding wildlife presents a health and safety issue for both people and animals.

We support the City of Vancouver’s desire to be the greenest city in the world, and we believe that wildlife should be included in that plan.

You can read the “Don’t Feed The Wildlife” motion here: https://council.vancouver.ca/20210331/documents/cfsc6.pdf.

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