Which birds warrant a spot at the backyard feeder and which don’t?
That question was up for debate during yesterday’s Bracebridge general committee meeting.
The committee was debating a wider bylaw to ban the feeding of wildlife within the municipality. A provision had been included to allow for the feeding of “songbirds” from bird feeders but that sparked a broader discussion on which birds, if any, should be allowed to feed in local backyards.
Councillors generally agreed that feeding wildlife like deer, moose and bears created a plethora of problems, such as potential traffic hazards, and dangerous human-wildlife encounters. However, there was some debate regarding the issues caused by backyard bird feeders.
Councillor Don Smith said he had significant issues with the legislation as it was presented. He questioned how bird feeders could be allowed when they were known to attract bears and deer. He pointed out that the motion would lead to yet another rule that had to be enforced by an already busy bylaw department. Smith also pointed out that the bylaw includes a contingency to ban live trapping in Bracebridge, something most people likely were not aware of.
Councillor Barb McMurray said she had some concerns with the term “songbirds” as other types of birds such as hummingbirds and woodpeckers should also be allowed at feeders. She was less enthusiastic about crows and ravens.
McMurray was advised by staff that the bylaw had been amended to include the term “backyard birds” which would include the types of birds she had specified. Birds like pigeons and geese will continue to be excluded.
Councillor Andrew Struthers said residential developments in Bracebridge continue to encroach on wild spaces and displace local wildlife.
“No bylaw is perfect and there probably will be revisions required but this is a good starting point,” said Struthers.
The motion was ultimately passed with councillors Smith and Barry Hammond voting against. The motion must still be ratified by Town Council during their June 15 meeting.
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