Proposed Sterling ordinance to impose fine for feeding certain wild animals

STERLING, IL — A new ordinance proposed by the Sterling City Council would seek to implement a $150 fine for leaving out food for certain types of wildlife within the city, according to Sauk Valley.¬†

The issue was brought up when a resident filed a complaint about wild raccoons damaging his property after being attracted by neighbors, who left out food for the nocturnal scavengers. Ward 1 Alderman Retha Elston says it’s a reoccurring issue within the area. The proposal also covers food left out for feral cats, which may seem harmless, but this often attracts larger amounts of wild animals into communities.

One of the primary concerns the ordinance is meant to address is the spread of rabies, which wildlife, especially raccoons, can carry into the city and unwittingly spread to domesticated pets.

However, the proposal isn’t perfect and still has some bugs to work out, according to various city officials.

City Attorney Tim Zollinger points out that the language of the proposal¬† may be too limiting, saying that it could also prohibit the classic scenario of sitting on a park bench and tossing bread out for birds. City code enforcement officer Amanda Schmidt says that the ordinance likely wouldn’t curb the feeding of feral cats, since they live in the city and find food sources anyway, but Mayor Skip Lee says that the measure is necessary to encourage people who feed feral cats to take more responsibility for them.

Zollinger also has concerns about the enforceability of the ordinance, noting that the difference between animals having a pattern of feeding in the city or occasionally finding some food can be difficult to determine.

The Sterling City Council discussed the issue on Monday, August 19th, but has not taken any action.

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