Future of Pocatello’s proposed wildlife feeding ban now uncertain

October 11, 2018

POCATELLO — A plan to make it illegal to feed most wild animals within city limits will not be discussed at a Thursday City Council work session during which the proposal’s feasibility was going to be scrutinized.

Concerns over the enforcement of the proposed wildlife feeding ordinance arose recently at an Urban Wildlife Task Force meeting, prompting the decision to remove the ordinance from the work session’s agenda, according to Jennifer Jackson, the regional communications manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The ordinance would prohibit people from knowingly feeding wildlife, excluding birds and squirrels, within Pocatello city limits.

Jackson said the future of the ordinance is unclear, though the Urban Wildlife Task Force will continue to discuss it.

The Urban Wildlife Task Force was formed over a year ago after Fish and Game and the city of Pocatello held a public meeting in May 2017 to discuss the issue of urban wildlife.

The citizen-based task force was created with the mission to “reduce potential safety concerns for humans, pets and wildlife themselves as well as reducing damage to private property while maintaining the aesthetic and social benefits that wildlife provide.”

One of the first initiatives the task force decided to work on was the wildlife feeding ordinance, though Jackson said the task force has discussed other ideas including educational outreach efforts.

Jackson said the task force typically meets on the second Tuesday of every month, and at the most recent meeting it was suggested that the ordinance should be pulled from the City Council study session’s agenda.

“My understanding is that there was concern about city law enforcement being able to actually enforce the rule,” Jackson said.

“On the Fish and Game side of things, we have a brand new supervisor in the region, and he also had some concerns about our officers being able to enforce the ordinance, especially since it’s a city ordinance.”

According to Jackson, the new Fish and Game Southeast Idaho supervisor, Dan Garren, said he had reservations about whether or not it was appropriate or feasible for Fish and Game officers to enforce a city ordinance.

Members of the Pocatello City Council had previously expressed concern over the enforcement of the ordinance at last month’s public forum when the proposal was first introduced. At that time, the council decided to discuss the ordinance further at Thursday’s work study session.

However, on Wednesday morning the city issued a press release stating that the ordinance had been pulled from the study session’s agenda “at the request” of the task force and the discussion regarding the ordinance had not been rescheduled.

After the ordinance was announced last month, there was some community backlash. Pocatello resident Orlando Bejarano started a petition against the ordinance.

Bejarano said he gathered about 25 signatures from people opposed to the ordinance and gave the City Council a report with his ideas for wildlife feeding.

Jackson said she is unsure of what the future of the ordinance will be, but the task force will continue to work on the ordinance and other measures to improve urban wildlife issues.

“We’ll continue to meet,” Jackson said, “and this may be something that I think needs just a little bit more review from everybody that’s involved in the task force as well as from Fish and Game’s side and the city’s side as well.”

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