Oct 1, 2021 - Politics
Feeding wildlife could cost you under Des Moines proposal
Geese last winter at Three Lakes Estes neighborhood on Des Moines' south side.
Geese at Three Lakes Estes neighborhood on Des Moines' south side last winter. Photo courtesy of Ben Page

People who feed wildlife in Des Moines could be fined up to $850 under a proposal that goes before the City Council Monday.

  • Deer and geese are the city's primary concern, but the proposed ban also includes squirrels, feral cats, raccoons, coyotes and fox.
  • If the proposal gets approved, violators could be found guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

Why it matters: Friendly feeders are inadvertently killing wildlife.

  • Feeding deer makes them more vulnerable to disease, and giving waterfowl bread can cause fatal lung infections. It can also make birds poop more, which can spread bacteria and increase the likelihood of illnesses.

The big picture: Cities like Cedar Rapids and Iowa City have banned feeding geese or deer on public property for years.

State of play: We've got urban wildlife population problems and some of it is attributed to "Iowa nice," Des Moines Parks director Ben Page told Axios.

  • Large populations of geese have become problematic around local trails and waterways.
  • And just this week, Des Moines Water Works voted to restart park bow hunts to help reduce the deer population.

The bottom line: Relocation or lethal removal of Canadian geese other than through regulated hunting requires a special federal permit, which the Iowa Department of Natural Resources possesses.

  • Local governments must ban feeding the birds and take other measures in order qualify for the DNR's assistance in managing overpopulation.
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