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News

Joliet delays ban on feeding wild animals

A deer is seen in Hammel Woods Feb. 3, 2015, in Shorewood.
A deer is seen in Hammel Woods Feb. 3, 2015, in Shorewood.

Joliet put a proposed ban on feeding animals on hold after city attorney Marty Shanahan worried that someone could get in trouble for slipping a crumb of bread to a duck.

The City Council was set to vote last week on a ban of feeding wild animals and wildfowl that would come with a $500 fine.

The proposal produced “a number of pointed comments and questions” posed to council members, Shanahan said Tuesday before recommending that the proposal be withdrawn and rewritten.

In re-examining the proposed ordinance, Shanahan said he believed it could produce unintended consequences.

“The proposed ordinance does in fact prohibit the incidental, sporadic and infrequent feeding of wild animals and waterfowl, such as a piece of bread to a duck,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan previously had said that the ordinance was aimed at incidents in which people put out “buckets of food,” attracting waterfowl and wild animals to residential areas and creating problems.

Although the ordinance would ban feeding of waterfowl, it does not prohibit feeding other birds and exempts elevated bird feeders from the prohibition.

Waterfowl are defined in the proposed ordinance as “any wild bird that frequents the water, or lives about rivers, lakes, ponds, etc., or on or near the sea; an aquatic fowl, including but not limited to ducks, geese and gulls.”

The ordinance defines a wild animal as “an animal, which is not normally domesticated in this state, including but not limited to coyotes, deer, feral cats, foxes, groundhogs, opossums, raccoons, skunks and waterfowl.”

Although the feeding ban was put on hold, the City Council last week did enact a number of measures, including:

• A six-month moratorium on new gun shops until the city develops rules, including safety requirements, for weapons retailers;

• A prohibition against parking cars on front lawns;

• Regulations on abandoned gas stations that officials said would give the city more authority to force property owners to move faster to reopen, redevelop or demolish the stations.

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