BRUNSWICK — City officials want to stop community members from feeding deer and other wildlife in the area and believe a new ordinance may be the answer.
The idea of making this kind of generosity illegal in Brunswick was first brought to Council in May, but it wasn’t presented to Council as a resolution until recently.
“The idea came forward in the spring via the animal control officer who approached me with the idea due to the complaints he’d been investigating,” Brunswick Police Chief Brian Ohlin said Thursday.
“So, he provided a sample ordinance … that was similar in nature to addressing this problem, and so we brought it to the Safety Committee and then they reviewed it and discussed it.”
Residents are complaining to the animal control officer that the food is attracting animals other than deer, such as raccoons and skunks, and creating a nuisance in neighborhoods, Ohlin said.
At-large Councilman Brian Ousley said the Safety and Environment Committee wanted to take the summer to evaluate their options.
“There have been instances where it’s bringing up to 40 white-tailed deer up to these feeders.
“There’s also been aggressive doe with their young,” said Ousley, who is chairman of the committee.
Ousley said the animals have caused some fear among residents.
Still, enacting a new ordinance could have other effects.
There are concerns about people who are using traps with food that are approved by animal control to catch smaller animals on their property being protected. Ousley said he wondered if the traps would count as feeders and if residents would be protected from prosecution.
Ohlin said that people could still use traps if they spoke to the animal control officer first.
“My understanding is that, basically, it would be neighbors complaining about nuisances that lead to these being reported,” At-large Councilman Joe Delsanter told the Safety Committee Monday during its meeting.
Ward 3 Councilman Joe Salzgeber and Ward 1 Council President Mike Abella also sit on the Safety Committee.
Ohlin said it was not his department’s intent to go looking for wildlife feeders, but the ordinance would help address problems that have been called in,” he said.
“We have had a number of complaints involving different citizens in different parts of the city,” Ohlin said. “It has been an increasing problem that has been called into us by citizens. We felt it was important to have some tools in place to address it.”
The city’s Law Department gathered similar ordinances from other Ohio cities to review.
Council had a first reading of the legislation Monday.
The ordinance will have to go through two more readings and a 30-day waiting period before it could become law, Ohlin said.
“Once that happens … if there are complaints involving citizens who are putting out large amounts of feed for wildlife that’s creating a nuisance condition, we will start by sending an animal control officer to investigate the circumstances first,” Ohlin said. “Make an effort to educate citizens on what the hazards are … and try to bring it to a resolution.”
If that doesn’t work, officers can cite offenders.
“The first offense would be a minor misdemeanor, which is essentially like a traffic ticket level,” Ohlin said.
The court can impose a maximum fine of $100 on a citation like this.
A second offense would jump to a fourth-degree misdemeanor, which raises the penalty to a $250 fine, according Ohlin.
The person in question could also potentially receive jail time for a fourth-degree misdemeanor, but the disposition of the case would be up to a judge.