Berkeley Lake considers wildlife feeding law

BERKELEY LAKE -- In an attempt to address a problem that occurs sometimes in a city that places huge importance on greenspace and wildlife, Berkeley Lake officials are considering enacting a law that provides for penalties for willfully feeding and/or trapping wildlife.

The ordinance amendment prohibiting feeding wildlife is intended to limit overpopulation of some species, including geese, ducks, foxes, coyotes and other animals. It will also help to ensure that humans are not compromised by exposure to animal-borne diseases, and it will cut back on potentially dangerous encounters between animals and humans.

Councilwoman Rebecca Spitler expressed some concern over possible interpretations of the amendment, as well as the particulars of how to enforce the ordinance.

"I have some concerns about enforcement ... and where you draw the line," Spitler said.

For instance, she wants to be sure that homeowners can humanely trap squirrels living in attics, then release them back into the wild. Some verbiage in the ordinance implies that a professional must be called in to handle such situations.

City leaders agreed to consider the matter further before making a change to the city ordinance.

Residents will still be allowed to attract and feed songbirds.

Septic tank violations addressed

Council members also discussed Thursday how to handle septic tank permit violations. Several instances of homes being built and permitted for two bedrooms, then marketed for sale as five-bedroom homes, for example, have arisen within the city.

With complicated issues regarding jurisdiction and enforcement of such violations at issue, city attorney Dick Carothers will review the matter and present his recommendations to city council at next month's meeting.