Printed on: July 26, 2013

City officials say no more handouts for geese

By CHRISTINA LORDS
clords@postregister.com

The Idaho Falls City Council approved a new ordinance Thursday night that bans feeding geese and other waterfowl within city limits.

Any violation of the ordinance would be considered an infraction and punishable by a fine of less than $100, City Attorney Randy Fife said.

"The single most important thing we can do to control the overpopulation of the geese is to stop the feeding of this wildlife," Parks and Recreation Director Greg Weitzel said.

The ordinance prohibits feeding the greenbelt geese or allowing anyone else (such as children) to feed them.

The move comes two weeks after the council approved removing the birds from the city's greenbelt. The $3,000 contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services allows for trapping the birds and transporting them to a wildlife management area about 100 miles away from Idaho Falls.

Some of the birds already have been tagged and transported, Weitzel said, while others will be removed in coming weeks.

Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Gregg Losinski said Tuesday that the agency had "offered our wildlife management areas for relocation, but have not been notified" of the transport dates.

The ordinance is supported by Wildlife Services and Idaho Fish and Game, Weitzel said.

The council directed Weitzel to install detailed signage about the new law that outlines why feeding the geese can be harmful. A public education campaign also is needed to help curb the feeding, council members said at previous meetings.

Feeding the birds can harm their health, as well as cause delayed migration and overpopulation, according to the the ordinance. It also stipulates that feeding the geese increases the city's costs to manage them.

The ordinance will take effect in seven to 10 days, city officials said.

In other business:

Council members unanimously endorsed an ordinance banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in regard to public accommodations, housing and employment. But the ordinance requires three full and separate readings before it can become law.

Sixteen people from Pocatello, Ammon and Idaho Falls offered more than 50 minutes of testimony during Thursday night's first reading.

The council will take public testimony at the second reading, scheduled Aug. 8.

Read more about the ordinance in the Saturday edition of the Post Register.

Reporter Christina Lords can be reached at 542-6762.