[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 10-17-2016 FATM, Art. 15]
The intent of this bylaw is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community. It has been established that feeding waterfowl and other wild animals increases the potential for damage to public and private land and property. Feeding may elevate the potential for the spread of diseases in people. Feeding of gulls especially endangers water quality and drinking water supplies, according to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Water Supply Protection. In addition, it is the intent of this bylaw to protect the welfare of wild animals and waterfowl as feeding can interrupt their normal feeding patterns, can cause nutritional problems, threaten their health and promote the spread of diseases.
As used in this and subsequent sections:
- DESIGNATED ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY
- Shall mean Webster Animal Control Officer, Police Officers, Natural Resources Officers, agents of the Board of Health, Environmental Police Officers, and other enforcement officers of the Division of Law Enforcement, and by the Deputy Environmental Police Officers.
- Shall mean the act of ground feeding, placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering, directly or indirectly, of any grain, shelled, shucked, or unshucked corn, seeds, wheat, bread or bakery products, salt, meat or parts, fish or parts, honey, molasses, or any other feed or nutritive substances, in any manner or form, so as to constitute for such wildlife a lure, attraction, or enticement to, on, or over any such areas where such feed items have been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered.
- Shall mean any undomesticated and unrestrained animal or fowl, including but not limited to bears, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks and other animals or fowl (including gulls and geese) causing public safety threats or nuisances.
No person shall feed any wildlife on public or private property within the Town of Webster. Whenever the Webster Animal Control Officer or any designated enforcement authority becomes aware that wildlife has been found feeding on any substance, as defined above, and the landowner or person committing the act has been notified of the occurrence by any person authorized to enforce this bylaw, and wildlife is thereafter found feeding on any such substance after any act of the commission or omission by the landowner or other person, such feeding shall be prima facie evidence that the feeding was with the knowledge or consent of the landowner or other person.
Nothing in this bylaw shall be construed to limit the feeding of domesticated waterfowl, as defined by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, by a farmer as defined in MGL c. 128, § 1A on property owned or leased by him, or the feeding of waterfowl or any other birds by propagators licensed under MGL c. 131, § 23 when such waterfowl or other birds are confined in such a manner as may be required pursuant to said Section 23 and any rules and regulations issued under authority thereof; or the feeding by any person or his agents, invitees or licensees or waterfowl lawfully kept as a pet by such person.
Any individual, company or corporation that is duly licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or entitled under law to possess wildlife of any kind.
Any action that is officially sanctioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that would require feeding, baiting, or luring of wildlife (i.e., capturing and tagging wildlife for scientific projects and study).
Any individual, company, or corporation that is engaged in lawful agricultural pursuits, including but not limited to growing crops, crop-bearing plants or raising livestock.
This section shall not be interpreted so as to prohibit bird feeders. However, if a bird feeder is determined to be the cause of a public safety threat or nuisance, the bird feeder(s) and seed debris will be required to be removed within 48 hours.
This section shall not be interpreted so as to prohibit the feeding of pets, provided that if food intended for pets is determined to be the source of wildlife feeding, the landowner or person responsible for the premises will be required to take steps to render such pet food inaccessible to wildlife, including the requirement that pet food be removed. If any wildlife gains access to pet food, the condition allowing access must be corrected or the pet food removed within 48 hours.
This section shall not be interpreted so as to prohibit or discourage the trap-neuter-return program, supported by the MSPCA, in the handling of feral cats.
This section shall not be interpreted so as to prohibit the storage of refuse, food product, pet food, or other material or nutritive substance on any premises in a manner which does not constitute a lure, attraction or enticement of wildlife on property within the Town of Webster, provided that if such storage is determined to be the source of a wildlife feeding problem, the landowner or person responsible for the premises will be required to take steps to render such storage area inaccessible to wildlife and the area near the storage be kept free from such debris. If any wildlife gains access to a storage area, the condition allowing access must be corrected or the stored material removed within 48 hours.
Any violation of this bylaw may be enforced by the Animal Control Officer or any designated enforcement authority through noncriminal disposition in accordance with the following schedule of fines: