Do you enjoy feeding deer, squirrels, rabbits and other wild animals in the City of Saline? If your practice is deemed to be a nuisance, you could be fined.
Saline City Council voted 6-0 to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wild animals in the city limits – if the feeding of animals causes a nuisance.
Linda TerHaar, Mayor Pro-Tem, said the city’s code review task force took up the matter after hearing from a citizen whose property had been damaged by animals who were being fed by a neighbor.
“It came to the code review task force with a complaint from a citizen with a situation he considered to be egregious. He demonstrated to us the damage to his property caused by a lot of feeding wild animals in his neighborhood,” TerHaar said.
The taskforce learned from city attorney Roger Swets that Saline was one of the few cities without an ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wild animals, and the body saw the need for a measure to help people protect their property, TerHaar said. But it didn’t want a strict prohibition on all feeding of wild animals.
So, with the help of the attorneys at Dickinson Wright, a more creative approach was sought. The goal was to prohibit conduct the impairs one’s ability to enjoy their property. Attorney Tom Forshee drafted an ordinance making it illegal to feed wild animals in a fashion that causes a public nuisance.
Council members say the ordinance is not designed to prohibit feeding the birds. Birdfeeders will continue to be allowed if they are placed at least five feet above ground and don’t attract wild animals.
Forshee told council he anticipates enforcement will be complaint-based, so don’t expect police or an ordinance officer patrolling the town looking for violators.
Councillor Janet Dillon asked about the feeding of deer.
“Does the DNR need to be involved? There’s so much disease (in the deer population) I assumed it was tied to this ordinance. It’s odd Saline allows people to feed deer when our neighbors to the north are culling them,” Dillon said.
Councillor Jack Ceo said the DNR has prohibited the feeding of deer.
Councillor Dean Girbach asked if feral dogs or cats would qualify as wild animals.
“There’s some discretion there. It would be considered on a case-by-case basis,” Forshee said.