Don't Feed Bambi in Wildwood
TAKE POLL: Feeding of wildlife, including migratory fowl and deer, may be prohibited in Wildwood in the future. But some city councilmembers fear the proposed ordinance will pit neighbors against neighbors.
Smack in the middle of all the green space in which Wildwood residents pride themselves, deer are multiplying again. More deer need more to eat. And some Wildwoodians disagree about whether the deer food source should include cracked corn, salt blocks and roughage provided by humans.
Ryan Thomas, Wildwood director of public works, said the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) representative who met with the city's Public Safety and Adminstration/Public Works committee members earlier this year recommended having such a non-feeding law.
He said MDC officials consider no-feeding rules as a secondary form of wildlife management. "Increased days of hunting didn't translate into more deer harvested," he said.
Wildwood resident and city Planning and Zoning commissioner Fran Gragnani addressed Wildwood city councilmembers at the Oct. 8 meeting, saying when people move to an area, such as Wildwood, they have to expect all kinds of wild animals. "I don't understand why and how we would prevent them from feeding," she said. "All we're trying to do with this is to pit one neighbor against another one. It doesn't seem reasonable to me."
Another Wildwood resident, Ron Beasley, agreed at the meeting when he also addressed councilmembers. He said he lived on a more remote 9-acre plot. "I think this (ordinance) would really contribute to problems, by creating a law that's essentially unenforceable," he said.
"Deer eat from under our bird feeder. Will that be a violation? I don't think we want to burden ourselves with something like that."
However councilmember Dave Bertolino, Ward 5, said the city is "probably one bad accident away from a room full of angry citizens," and he said he believed initiating a no-feeding policy was a proper step to take.
Councilmember Ron James, Ward 6, said he has lived on 42 acres in Wildwood for several decades. "Deer have always been all over. They eat with my horses in the pasture. The city has a lot of deer strikes up north, and I guess more and more deer are being drawn into subdivisions with more lots."
Councilmember John McCulloch, Ward 7, said he lives on "more like 40 feet than 40 acres," and with small houses, he and his neighbors are seeing deer everywhere. "The deer are overpopulated, and are going wherever they can to get whatever they can."
Councilmember Tammy Shea, Ward 3, said because council would be asking the community to police itself, it may turn out terribly, and could have devastating outcomes.
Councilmember Katie Dodwell, Ward 4, said not feeding wildlife is a small step to be taken for a much larger problem. "We've had 300 deer accidents within the city's limits, and should look at a more holistic activity. Not feeding is the first of many things we could do. We could have organized hunting. Not feeding is not an end-all and be-all."
Councilmember Jack Clark, also of Ward 4, said not feeding wildlife is the law at federal parks, because the animals lose their ability to forage. "Then comes starvation. Let's don't do this anymore in Wildwood."
Councilmember Randy Ladd, Ward 2, said for anyone who hasn't seen deer being fed in Wildwood, they could come to his Wildwood neighborhood and witness people feeding anywhere from 10 to 20 deer at a time in his subdivision.
Taking a chapter from an existing Ballwin ordinance that prohibits feeding wildlife, Wildwood's currently proposed ordinance reads as follows:
The feeding of Canada geese, ducks, other migratory waterfowl and/or species of deer within the (Wildwood) City limits, which feeding results in the deposit of refuse, debris, fecal matter or other offensive substance or in the attraction of wildlife, creating the prejudice or annoyance of any person or to any property, unless otherwise permitted by law, is prohibited.
No person shall deposit, place, distribute or leave any food, of any kind or nature, with the intent to feed Canada geese, ducks, other migratory waterfowl and/or any species of deer on public or private lands, with the City.
This section shall not apply to any resident or agent of the City authorized to implement a wildlife management program and who possesses the necessary permits from the Missouri Department of Conservation, nor shall it apply to any public officer or public employee in the performance of his or her duties. The provision of this section shall not apply to the feeding of domestic animals.
Any person who shall violate or fail to comply with the provisions of this section may, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or confinement not to exceed 90 days, or both. Each act in which a person violates this section shall be considered a separate incident and may be punished as a separate occurrence.
The ordinance is recommended to go in effect as of Jan. 31, 2013.
Councilmembers asked Thomas at the Oct. 8 meeting to research how many violations and fines had happened in nearby municipalities that already have a non-feeding law in place, such as Clarkson Valley and Ballwin.