Residents of Alfred and Plantagenet will be able to keep feeding wild animals without risk of fines.

At the September 19 Committee of the Whole meeting, council decided against introducing a bylaw which would have banned residents from feeding wild animals in the township.

In April 2021, council first considered prohibiting the activity and asked staff to study the idea further following complaints about citizens feeding wild animals. During the study process, staff heard from residents concerned about the difference between feeding in rural and urban areas and heard a preference for an educational approach rather than further regulation.

The draft bylaw discussed by council on September 19 would have exempted bird feeders for feeding “small birds” such as cardinals, finches, martins, sparrows, “and the like.”

Feeding large and small wild animals would have been prohibited. Feeding “pest birds” defined to include pigeons, gulls, doves, and crows would have been prohibited if they were causing a nuisance to properties or creating health hazards.

Councillor Jean-Pierre Cadieux expressed support for the bylaw and said there had been complaints, particularly about feeding foxes.

Councillor Antoni Viau said his impression was that feeding wild animals had not been a problem during the past year and questioned if a bylaw was necessary.

“This is micromanaging, we don’t need this kind of bylaw, it’s really hard to manage.” Councillor Ian Walker said. He questioned how the bylaw could be enforced when wild animals often eat trash from the landfill site or beside roads.

Cadieux said he is concerned about foxes being fed in residential areas. He described the bylaw as the only solution other than trapping animals.

Viau wondered if residents are complaining to councillors instead of speaking with their neighbours about the problem.

Cadieux said people have demanded some residents stop feeding animals.

Mayor Yves Laviolette said it is challenging if someone is feeding a lot of animals.

Cadieux recommended the bylaw be voted on at the next regular council meeting. However, a lack of consensus due to Viau and Walker’s opposition prevented the bylaw from advancing.