Charlottetown could start fining fox feeders

Dave Stewart
Published on August 13, 2014

This red fox is doing what wild foxes are supposed to do - catch their own food. In this Guardian file photo a fox pounces on a field mouse that it wasted no time in eating once it dug it out from its burrow. Charlottetown city council said it is geting complaints about some residents feeding the animals.

©Guardian file photo by Brian McInnis

People who persist in feeding foxes in Charlottetown could find themselves bitten in the wallet.

The City of Charlottetown could turn to provincial legislation and fine people in an effort to curb the ongoing issue.

Coun. David MacDonald, chairman of the protective and emergency services committee, said the first order of business is to educate the public.

“We’re going to put out a pamphlet and that pamphlet is going to have all kinds of information about foxes — what they look like, even the scruffy ones, what they eat and why it’s not in anyone’s best interest to feed them,’’ MacDonald said.

During Monday’s regular monthly public meeting, MacDonald said fines would target the hardcore feeders.

Researchers at UPEI, who have been studying foxes for the past few years, say feeding urban foxes is harmful because the animals stop hunting for themselves and come to rely on that food from humans. They could starve as a result.

MacDonald has said in the past few months that there are some real trouble spots in the capital area, places where hardcore feeders are supplying food, drawing lots of foxes.

“We’re also hoping to have a couple of outdoor sessions, one at Victoria Park and one someplace else, where we’ll actually have some (biologists) out from the vet college.

“The feedback we’re getting from the research done at UPEI is that there is a percentage of people who genuinely feel that they’re doing the foxes good by feeding them.’’

MacDonald said the city hopes that by educating the public about the dangers of feeding foxes that people will stop.

If that doesn’t work, the city could turn to provincial legislation to issue fines.

“Under provincial legislation now we’re able to maybe do some enforcement that couldn’t be done before but it has to do with the protection of animals. We don’t know how the enforcement is going to work, we just know that meetings (that have taken place) have identified some particular pieces of existing legislation that might allow enforcement to take place.’’

MacDonald says the city would prefer not to fine anyone but it may come to that with people who won’t stop feeding the animals voluntarily.

“We think in the long run that 99.9 per cent of the offenders will be dealt with by the education piece.’’

MacDonald said the city hopes to have the education pamphlets out by September.