Members of the Vancouver Park Board approved a draft bylaw amendment Monday evening that would imposes a $500 fine for feeding urban wildlife.
“It is physically unhealthy for animals, and encourages food-conditioning that can lead to aggressive (behaviour),” says a report summary provided to the board.
As it stands, the B.C. Wildlife Act includes provisions against feeding “dangerous wildlife,” but that does not extend to other urban wild animals.
Current bylaws ban leaving food anywhere in parks apart from in garbage bins, but the amendment specifically includes feeding or attempting to feed animals and leaving food or grain out for them.
The amended bylaw still needs another round of approval to take effect, which could happen as soon as Oct. 4 at the next Vancouver Park Board meeting.
Members of the board are also expected to discuss potentially increasing the $500 fine, expanding the definition of wildlife and methods of enforcement.
Parks staff say they’ve used staff monitoring, active removal of scraps, public education and signage. Those methods, however, appear to be falling short.
“The Stanley Park Ecology Society, City of Vancouver, Park Board, and Provincial Conservation Officers Service receive ongoing reports of wildlife feeding in parks, including hand feeding and depositing large amounts of domestic animal or human food on the ground with the intention of feeding wildlife,” reads the report that went before the board on Monday night.
“In some observed cases, this behaviour seems to be for the purpose of taking close-up wildlife photographs.”
Stanley Park reopened to visitors last week after a temporary closure during which four coyotes were culled.
Seven problematic animals had been previously removed, and the remaining coyotes aren’t expected to cause any problems, Amit Gandha, acting director of parks, told Global News last week.
At least 45 coyote attacks had been reported since December, five of which involved children.