BANFF – The national park townsite may have something worth crowing about with a proposed municipal ban on birdfeeders.
While it’s illegal to feed wildlife under the Canada National Parks Act, the Town of Banff is looking to include a specific ban on birdfeeders in a municipal bylaw to strengthen enforcement and make it clear it’s serious about keeping wildlife out of town.
Town of Banff officials say Parks Canada has also indicated it’s a cumbersome process to charge someone caught with a birdfeeder in town, which includes a mandatory court appearance under the Canada National Parks Act.
“The feeding of wildlife obviously is covered under Parks regulations, but when they actually have to do the enforcement when it comes to charging, they have a very onerous process,” said Tony Clark, the Town’s bylaw services supervisor.
“If we had a more black-and-white bylaw, they would also be authorized to enforce it as well and it would make things much easier.”
The Town of Banff is also considering a bylaw to ban fruit trees, which attract bears to town. The issue was up for discussion on Wednesday (Dec. 12), but the results of that meeting were not available at press time.
The Bow Valley human-wildlife coexistence taskforce made a series of recommendations looking at ways to remove natural and unnatural attractants that entice wildlife into the communities of Canmore and Banff.
Mayor Karen Sorensen, who was co-chair of that committee, supports the proposed municipal ban on birdfeeders, saying a local bylaw makes it clear to residents the municipality is serious about human-wildlife coexistence.
“It is illegal to feed wildlife in a national park and birds are wildlife. No one should have a bird feeder in their yard, but I assume some people do,” said the mayor.
“Placing it specifically in a bylaw is a good reminder to our residents that birdfeeders count as feeding wildlife, and maybe some people don’t acknowledge it that way, but that is what it is.”
Councillor Brian Standish asked if he had a conflict of interest because he sells birdfeeders at Standish Home Hardware. Administration’s advice was he did not because it was an issue affecting the broader community.
However, Coun. Standish said he didn’t want to encourage people to buy birdfeeders if it’s illegal.
“It’s unfortunate because I know there’s a lot of people who feed birds, but we’re going to have to stop selling birdfeeders,” he said.
The proposed ban on birdfeeders, and accompanying fine for those charged, will come back to council for a final decision as part of amendments to the community standards bylaw.
In neighbouring Canmore, bird feeders of any kind are banned during bear season (April 1 to Nov. 30).
Outside of those months, the Town recommends suspending a bird feeder on a cable so that it can’t be reached by any other wildlife.
A spokesperson for Parks Canada was unavailable for comment before the Outlook’s press deadline.