Feeding ducks or geese on Carmel city property could now cost you $100.
That’s because the Carmel City Council voted unanimously Aug. 15 to suspend the rules and immediately approve an ordinance that prohibits feeding waterfowl on city-owned property, such as the Carmel Veterans Memorial reflecting pool and the Japanese garden. Fines could go up to $100 for even a first offense.
City Councilor Sue Finkam, one of the sponsors, said the ordinance is necessary because the city has spent more than $25,000 since the memorial pool reopened last year to clean up feathers in the water, filter and skim the water for waste and powerwash the sidewalks.
“It is significant, it is disgusting, and it’s a health hazard,” she said. “And it’s disrespectful to the veterans who we are honoring with the reflecting pool.”
City Councilor Jeff Worrell, another sponsor, noted that Indiana’s Dept. of Natural Resources and the local chapter of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals both endorsed this policy as the most humane way to deal with the waterfowl nesting in these areas.
Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider, who voted for the ordinance, raised some concerns, especially about whether it should apply to all city property.
“I understand we’re spending money, but fundamentally I have a problem with the government telling kids they can’t throw bread to ducks or geese,” he said.
He also questioned whether this policy would fix the problem.
“I don’t think bread is the issue,” he said. “Water is the issue.”
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the policy is in the animals’ best interest.
“It’s good practice,” he said. “Wild animals aren’t supposed to be fed. It makes it so they can’t fend for themselves. It’s not good for people or the animals.”
City Attorney Doug Haney said he doesn’t anticipate fining little kids or their parents $100 for an innocent toss of bread. He said the ordinance is targeted more toward repeat offenders.
“It’s more about adults with lots of bread every day,” he said.
Brainard said there are some private individuals who act as if they are caretakers of the ducks and geese and regularly come out with lots of bread on a regular basis.
“It involves certain individuals who have ignored repeated requests and reasonable discussion,” Worrell said.