On Tuesday, Vancouver’s city council will debate whether to ban the feeding of wildlife within the city. The motion was put forward by Councillor Pete Fry after the Vancouver Park Board reported that there had been 15 attacks by coyotes on humans in Stanley Park between December 1, 2020 and February 22, 2021.
“When people feed wildlife, the animals become habituated and can lose their healthy fear of people. This increases their chances of being injured or killed,” Fry wrote in the motion. “Feeding wildlife can also directly or indirectly cause aggression in animals, attract vermin and other pests, and transmit diseases.”
Fry defines the feeding of wild animals in an urban ecosystem as “opportunistic feeding”, meaning people lure wild animals with food in an effort to admire or interact with them.
Currently, the feeding of wildlife within Vancouver is banned under the B.C. Wildlife Act, Canada Fisheries Act, and parks control bylaw. But there is no city bylaw that specifically prohibits the feeding of wildlife.
This poses a problem as a freedom of information request obtained by the Fur-Bearers, a non-profit organization committed to protecting Canadian wildlife, revealed that Vancouver bylaw officers are not enforcing the regulations under any of the above acts or bylaws. According to the freedom of information request, bylaw officers issued zero tickets—fines or warnings—to people feeding wildlife in Stanley Park between January 1, 2018 and January 19, 2021.
As a result, Fry is asking city council to consider implementing a bylaw and ticket offence that specifically prohibits the intentional feeding of wildlife, while also encouraging better management of wildlife attractants around peoples’ properties, such as bird feed and garbage, so that it doesn’t act as an unintentional feeding source.
Fry has added exemptions to the proposed bylaw for liquid hummingbird feeders and wild-proof songbird feeders—as long as they are designed to prevent access to squirrels and rats.
“In Vancouver, public education and enforcement around feeding of wildlife in the urban ecosystem is inconsistent and ineffective,” Fry writes.