FEEDING FRENZY ... Today, "Do not feed the animals" is just a friendly suggestion at Palo Alto parks. Soon, it could become the law of the land. The city's Parks and Recreation Commission is scheduled to consider on Tuesday night a new ordinance that would prohibit feeding of wildlife and feral cats at all parks and open space areas. The feeding of wild animals is most common at the Baylands Duck Pond, where visitors have been offering snacks to geese, ducks and squirrels for decades. These days, the feeding of wildlife and feral animals is "causing problems in our urban parks and all our open space areas," Open Space Manager Daren Anderson wrote in a new report. The feeding of crows, ravens and jays only attracts more of these nuisance species to the city's neighborhoods, parks and natural areas, Anderson wrote. "These aggressive species prey on nesting birds throughout Palo Alto, consuming eggs and chicks of songbirds, raptors and even endangered species in the Baylands," he wrote. Those who feed feral cats unwittingly exacerbate the problem by luring other animals to feeding stations, including rats, skunks, racoons and opossums. Anderson lists many other unintended consequences of human generosity: park benches and walkways covered in bird feces; an uptick in coyotes at the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve; increasingly aggressive squirrels and waterfowl; and foxes that appear to take a page out of Yogi Bear's playbook. "At the Palo Alto Golf Course, visitors have fed grey foxes, a practice that has led to aggressive animal behavior," Anderson wrote. "There have been several reports of foxes taking food out of golf carts, and approaching people who have food without any fear." If the ordinance is approved by the City Council, residents will have a new reason to respect the signs asking them not to feed the animals: a fine of up to $250.
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posted Friday, August 23, 2013, 12:00 AM