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Bird feeding at the park may fetch you a fine and jail time in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Feeding birds at the park is a common pastime for families looking to enjoy the outdoors and connect with birds. However, for bird lovers in Scottsdale, Ariz., throwing bread crumbs to birds at the park is now a crime, according to The Arizona Republic.

If you are caught feeding geese, ducks or pigeons at public parks, you could be fined up to $750—though real citations will probably be around $50 to $100—and even get some time behind bars.

Before bird lovers out there arm themselves with pitchforks and torches, it’s important to note that this is not always unjustified or done for a hatred of nature.

Here’s more from the Arizona Republic:

Officials say it’s not a question of being killjoys but a serious matter of keeping the parks clean and safe, protecting the birds and saving money by clamping down on a practice that has become a feeding frenzy.

These types of stories have been popping up all over the nation for some time now because feeding birds at parks is not always a great idea. Not only is the bread fairly unhealthy for the birds, but it also increases population and the spread of disease through increased defecation.

According to the article, people are not just throwing a few scraps of food to the birds. They’re leaving massive amounts of food for the birds to feast on. This is not only annoying for park-goers either. Birds are equally affected by this type of buffet feeding of unhealthy food.

Still, there’s something unsettling about being unable to feed the birds at your park, even if you’re giving them corn or bird seed. From the articles, it doesn’t seem like anyone is outraged at this brand new ordinance that took effect Friday.

While excessive fines and jail time are only given in extreme circumstances like one 80-year-old Massachusetts woman who faced a jail sentence for feeding birds despite repeated warnings, banning bird feeding seems extreme.

What do you think? Is this just a sad but necessary regulation to keep parks clean and protect birds, or is it another example of a heavy-handed move of banning something joyful?

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

7 Comments

  1. I am outraged by the short-sightedness of these types of laws. Yes, people are feeding poor quality food. Wouldn’t it be a great educational tool to do as several people above suggest and provide vending machines with appropriate food? I am battling the manager of my apartment complex right now because they have imposed a top down “rule” against feeding all birds with a $50 fine for each violation. There is nothing, nothing wrong with feeding backyard birds with wild bird seed!! We do have a few pidgeons but I have walked the areas where they feed and can’t find even a little guano, so what is the big deal? We have a 92 year old tenant whose only pleasure in life is feeding those damned birds, pidgeons and otherwise, and she is being reduced to tears on a daily basis by our unfeeling manager. I want to see a regulation in writing that prohibits her from feeding the birds (and pidgeons) in the confines of our apartment complex.

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