Rockland orders woman to stop feeding sea gulls after poop controversy

A November 2010 photo of a man feeding birds near the waterline in Rockland.
A November 2010 photo of a man feeding birds near the waterline in Rockland.
Posted May 09, 2012, at 4:22 p.m.
Last modified May 09, 2012, at 5:48 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland woman at the center of a controversy over what the city and her neighbors say is the excessive feeding of sea gulls has been ordered to clean up her property within 24 hours or face court action.

Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root and City Attorney Kevin Beal served Susie Gray of Camden Street Terrace with notices of two violations on Wednesday — one for local property maintenance codes and one state law concerning public health.

The city council will consider Monday night whether to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the excessive feeding of birds, but Beal said it will be at least 60 days before the local law would take effect if adopted by the council.

Some of Gray’s neighbors contend they are not able to enjoy being outside of their homes because of the amount of sea gull droppings.

The city attorney said the amount of droppings has become a health hazard and public nuisance. Beal said Gray is being directed to not feed wildlife to any extent that would continue the nuisance and she must clean her property.

Gray said she is trying to find an attorney who might help her but said she “can’t afford $200 an hour” to defend herself. Gray said she was told she could not feed the sea gulls or squirrels.

She maintains that she has not created a health risk and contends that the claims by neighbors that there is seagull poop everywhere are baloney. She said most of the droppings are on her property and not the neighbors.

Gray said she used to feed the birds three or four times a day but after complaints from her neighbors she reduced it to once in the evening. She estimated 75-100 sea gulls arrive and are there for only 15 minutes before they leave.

The 62-year-old woman said she purchases stale bread from a store for $8 a week. She said she loves birds and enjoys feeding them. She said her actions have not caused any other animals other than squirrels and a few raccoons to come on her property.

She also said that the birds are in the area anyway because of her close proximity to McDonald’s restaurant, the Hannaford supermarket and a Thai restaurant.

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