It's now officially illegal to feed squirrels in Toronto and the fines are steep
The favourite pastime of young children and old men everywhere is now illegal in Toronto: you can no longer feed any wildlife (including squirrels or pigeons) under a new bylaw.
As of April 1, 2023, residents are "not allowed to feed wildlife or leave food out to attract animals on both public and private property," according to Chapter 349 under the city's Animal Bylaw.
That includes feeding the ducks at High Park, offering walnuts to the squirrels at Trinity Bellwoods and leaving gigantic puddles of breadcrumbs for pigeons on Bloor Street — unless you want to face a potential fine of $365.
"The City aims to first educate people around the regulations and why they are important to the safety of both wildlife and the community. The goal is to resolve issues and ensure that people are following the rules under the bylaw," said a response from the city's Municipal Licensing and Standards department.
This bylaw has been a long time coming, as it was first proposed back in 2021.
While you might be annoyed with this bylaw, it's actually here to help protect animals from us dumb humans.
When wild animals are fed by people, it conditions them to expect food from us and "increases their proximity tolerance," putting them at risk, according to the city.
Not to mention that human food (stale Wonder Bread or Cheerios) is unhealthy for animals. Many of them literally cannot stomach processed foods; the city says they can find higher quality food on their own.
Just think about how bread, which often contains lots of sugar, sodium and carbohydrates, could wreak havoc on a squirrel's little body.
The only thing still allowed is bird feeders, though they must be maintained.
Maybe now is the time to pick up some bird suet cakes for your newest hobby — bird watching.
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