Crimebeat – It is now illegal to feed squirrels or trap mice in Thunder Bay

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don't feed squirrelsTHUNDER BAY – Editorial – Did you know it is illegal to shoot at a whale in Utah? Utah is a land-locked state, without any whales. Or that in Alberta it is illegal to paint a log? In a further effort to protect you from yourself, having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal in Florida. There are long lists of dumb laws. In Alberta, the law still says when a prisoner is released from jail they must be provided with a gun, ammunition, a horse, saddle and three days worth of food.

It’s illegal to tease skunks just south of Thunder Bay, in the state of Minnesota.

In Thunder Bay it is now illegal to kill mice using a baited mouse trap.

Originally it is likely at some point those laws likely had some kind of rationelle to have councillors or legislators enact them.

One of the points in looking at any legislation is not just to look at the intended effort behind the law, but to look at the actual wording of the legislation or by-law to see what it could mean.

In Thunder Bay, City Council just passed a new By-law. According the the City of Thunder Bay, “The By-law outlines that the feeding of deer and wildlife contributes to unpredictable and aggressive behaviour of deer and wildlife, increases the opportunity for motor vehicle collisions involving deer and wildlife and can spread infectious diseases among deer, wildlife and human beings. It also creates overpopulation, which can contribute to the destruction of private and public property and the unpredictable and aggressive behaviour of wildlife”.

Sounds positive, on first glance. However when you get into the actual wording of this new By-Law, and read the definitions and consider the maximum fine is $5000, it starts to look like the City has missed all the possibilities. Under the new By-law, “Wildlife” means any non-domesticated animal, including geese, ducks and gulls, but excluding all other birds.

That means it includes feeding of squirrels. It equally can be interpreted to mean if you put out a mouse trap, baited with cheese or peanut butter that you are attracting and feeding “wildlife”.

When looking to enact legislation, often legislators are directed to use broad strokes encompassing far more into the law than was originally asked for or needed. Looking at the new “Wildlife Feeding Prohibition By-law” it appears City Council has done just that.

Reading the actual wording before voting is probably something residents would expect, looking at his new By-law it appears no one really looked an what they were enacting. It is likely no one on Council meant to make it illegal to use a mouse trap, but the wording of the By-law they just passed says exactly that. All it takes is to read what the rules and definitions contain.

The By-law was enacted to prevent the feeding of deer, but by adding the word “wildlife” Council expanded the breadth of the law well past that. One wonders how long before someone realizes how far past the original intent of the By-law that City Council just enacted?

James Murray

Read the By-Law for yourself, go to www.thunderbay.ca and search for deer.

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