A NEW ‘no feeding zone’ for wild birds could be implemented in Ramsey town centre if a new byelaw drawn up by Ramsey Town Commissioner’s is approved, with possible penalty fines for anyone found to breach it.
Technically, throwing food on to the floor is already prohibited under anti-litter laws, but commissioners felt specific legislation would send a more clear message to tackle the issue of nuisance birds in the town’s commercial areas.
The byelaw submitted for Tynwald approval, applying only to the designated area, reads: ‘No person shall feed, or attract the gathering of wild birds, other wildlife or vermin, by providing any food in a manner likely to cause nuisance, inconvenience or to give reasonable grounds for annoyance to any person.’
The model byelaws adapted by the commissioners state that the penalty can be ‘a fine not exceeding £2,500’, while the law would be enforceable by police officers or recognised officials of the local authority.
Town clerk Peter Whiteway explained: ‘The law is not to say just because someone feeds the birds means they will be fined, it depends on whether the action of feeding them is likely to cause anyone annoyance. Youngsters feeding ducks from the side of the harbour aren’t going to get into trouble.’
Mr Whiteway added: ‘£2,500 is the maximum penalty, most cases would be much less. If a case went to court, the court would decide the penalty.’
Though the plans cover all wildlife, the byelaw is primarily a response to public complaints of large gatherings of seagulls and pigeons. Commissioners discussed the issue of a growing pigeon population in June, and sought professional advice which pointed to the need to ‘control food sources and roost opportunities as the primary means of controlling the pigeon population.’
Culling birds was not recommended, because of health and safety risks, and the fact that the pigeons’ breeding capacity would soon replace any birds culled.
It was even discussed that a pigeon cote could be accommodated on the roof of the town hall, encouraging birds to nest there so their eggs could be removed or sterilized. Purchasing an ‘acoustic scarer’ was also discussed, while leaflet campaigns to discourage feeding of pigeons and seagulls had already previously been tried.
Eventually a final draft of the restricted area, pictured above, was agreed upon by commissioners at the September’s public meeting and submitted to Tynwald.
The October sitting is the earliest Tynwald could consider it, meaning November 1 is the earliest it could be implemented.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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