Feeding Foul in North Attleboro

BY AMY NEWBURY, SUN CHRONICLE STAFF, 9/1/2000, -NORTH ATTLEBORO-

You could run afoul of law if you feed fowl in North

Feeding geese within town limits could cost much more than the price of birdseed if a new bylaw is approved at October’s town meeting. The conservation commission is sponsoring an article that would prohibit anyone from feeding waterfowl in the Anatidae family – including ducks, geese, and swans – within town limits, even on private property.

Anyone found violating the bylaw, which will be enforced by the town’s conservation and health agents, will be fined $50.00 per offence. Conservation Agent Derek Saari said health and public safety concerns prompted the bylaw proposal. “We’re concerned about the health hazards. You wouldn’t believe what some of the back yards I’ve seen look like,” Saari said. “Fortunately, the geese haven’t been a problem for the water supply yet. We’ve had the water tested and the fecal counts are below the state standards.”

Saari said once a resident begins to feed a flock of geese, yards throughout the neighborhood are fouled up by the wandering fowl. “Geese have been an ongoing problem, and we’ve had several action-needed reports filed from concerned citizens,” Saari said. “Since there wasn’t a bylaw, we could stop people from feeding waterfowl on publicly owned land, but not on privately owned land.”

Some neighbors have resorted to putting up fences in an attempt to keep the birds out of the yard, only to find that the birds are flying over the fences anyway, he said. Saari said that’s about as far as many of the birds are flying these days- some are so well fed, they stay in the area year round. He said the amount of food available in the natural environment would not sustain the large number of waterfowl that currently exists in town. If people are forced to stop feeding waterfowl, the number of geese will shrink to more manageable and safer levels.

The proposed bylaw does not restrict the feeding of domesticated waterfowl by a farmer on the property, by a licensed propagator within a confined area or by those who legally keep waterfowl as a pet.

Note: The above article was approved at the October Town Meeting.

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