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Will Bellingham’s new ban on feeding deer, raccoons harm bird feeding?

Feeding deer in Bellingham is illegal - and will be expensive if you're caught

The Bellingham City Council has banned the intentional feeding of deer and raccoons within the city limits.
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The Bellingham City Council has banned the intentional feeding of deer and raccoons within the city limits.

Don’t worry, bird lovers. You won’t have to take down your bird feeder when Bellingham’s new ban on feeding wild deer and raccoons begins next month.

The City Council said as much Monday when members added a provision that made it clear feeding wild birds wouldn’t land people in trouble under the new rules.

The ban is focused primarily on people who intentionally feed deer in city limits, but the owner of Wild Bird Chalet in Bellingham feared it would harm her business.

Valeri Wade pointed to a section that defines intentional feeding as a person who “places food, or causes food to be placed, on the ground outdoors or in any outdoor area reachable by these animals.”

Bellingham Deer
Goldfinches swarm around a bird feeder in Bellingham. Philip A. Dwyer pdwyer@bhamherald.com

She has said that would ban bird feeding because seeds fall from feeders. She wasn’t placated by the city’s assurances that such unintentional feeding wasn’t the city’s focus.

In response, the city added a provision that said, essentially, people wouldn’t be dinged – and possibly fined – if the four-legged critters that were the focus of the ban ate food intended for winged wildlife.

The City Council approved the ban in response to residents frustrated by neighbors who purposefully feed deer, attracting them in unnaturally large numbers and exacerbating problems that come with a burgeoning deer population.

Feeding them isn’t good for the animals’ health, officials have said, or the people who are affected by the activity. They cited health and safety concerns that included the spread of disease, vehicles hitting deer, and deer charging pets.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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