MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town leaders don’t want people feeding the bears or the birds.
The Town Council is considering an ordinance that would fine violators $100 for each instance of feeding wild animals and fowl, except songbirds, on all property within town lines.
As proposed by Councilor Michael Madore, the ordinance would prevent or reduce the number of wild animals drawn into town and the messes they make, but it would not eliminate the use of manufactured or constructed bird feeders.
Under the ordinance, the bird feeders must be on private property, be designed to prevent wild-animal access and be at least 5 feet off the ground.
The council agreed to table the ordinance during its second reading on April 11 after Code Enforcement Officer Michael Noble said that the enforcement provisions of the ordinance would be cumbersome. Noble said that officials in other towns that employ ordinances upon which Millinocket’s are based have found it all but unenforceable.
“I talked briefly with Chief Bolduc about this and between the two of us we can establish a better procedure than this,” Noble said, referring to Don Bolduc, Millinocket’s police chief.
The ordinance Noble is proposing allows 30 days for Maine District Court rulings on summonses he would issue.
Madore said the ordinance would probably be enforceable and chafed at the idea of reworking it. The ordinance has been under review for about a year, he said.
“It is real easy to find fault with anything,” Madore said. “Anybody can say, ‘That’s not right.’ The hard part is doing it right in the first place. It is really easy to criticize after the fact, but the fact is, we need this ordinance.”
The ordinance has its origins in messes created by overfeeding of birds by some residents around town and an influx of bears reported in several town neighborhoods in summer 2012 because of a late spring, unusually wet weather and a delayed bloom in the fruit trees bears feed on.
Bear sightings in 2012 were reported on several roads, including Bates, Poplar and School streets and Katahdin Avenue. The bears seemed to be hunting for food in garbage cans, Dumpsters and backyards. Bolduc asked residents to take in their bird feeders in response.
Anti-animal feeding laws are on the books in large and small cities in Maine and nationwide.
Rockland enacted an ordinance banning the feeding of sea gulls last year.
Elsewhere, those with enforceable bans include San Francisco, which prohibits the feeding of any animals by hand.
Bloomington, Minn., is another. According to one news report in 2011, a Bloomington man faced charges for throwing bird feed on the ground instead of keeping it in his feeder, which according to the city’s statute had to be 5 feet off the ground.
Officials in Cheyenne, Wyo., approved a feeding ban in October 2012 to quell an influx of wild ducks and geese.
The council is expected to review and vote on the ordinance at its meeting next month.