Ordinance Prohibiting the Feeding of Wildlife
Visitors and residents alike enjoy viewing the wildlife that call New Braunfels home. Deer, waterfowl, and squirrels are common types of wildlife that are seen throughout the city and within our parklands. Although it may be tempting to feed these animals so that you can get a closer look or snap a picture, feeding wildlife can be detrimental to both humans and animals that share urban spaces.
The City of New Braunfels (CoNB), with the help of local agencies and stakeholders, has developed a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP) for the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River watersheds to protect and preserve the water quality in these waterbodies. The WPP includes recommendations discouraging the feeding of wildlife in order to minimize bacteria loading to our waterways as well as multiple other reasons. One recommendation of the WPP that has been implemented by the CoNB is an ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wildlife within the city limits. The ordinance was drafted by CoNB staff, approved by the City Council, and signed by the Mayor on September 10th, 2018. The ordinance grants a six (6) month grace period to allow the CoNB staff to coordinate educational workshops which will allow the community to become familiar with the new ordinance. Enforcement of the ordinance officially begins March 10th, 2019.
Summary of the Ordinance Prohibiting the Feeding of Wildlife Within the City Limits:
- An offense is committed when food is made readily available by it being placed on the ground or within reach of wildlife;
- 'Food' is defined as bread products, corn, fruit, oats, hay, nuts, wheat, soy products, salt blocks, grain, vegetables, and commercially sold feed; items that are exempt include naturally growing shrubs, live crops, plants, flowers, vegetation, gardens, trees, and fruit or nuts that have fallen on the ground or are in reach of wildlife;
- 'Wildlife' is defined as undomesticated animals living in the wild;
- Citizens are allowed to place food on the ground, in good faith, for the purpose of feeding domesticated animals or livestock located on their property;
- Penalties include a warning for a first offense. Second and subsequent offenses will result in prosecution in Municipal Court. These violation are considered a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $75 - $500;
- Ordinance does not apply to the placement of food into feeders kept at a minimum of five (5) feet above the ground and intended for birds;
- Ordinance does not apply to an animal control officer, veterinarian, peace officer, CoNB employee, or federal or state wildlife official who is acting in accordance with a lawfully authorized program to manage wildlife and who is acting within the established scope of said program;
- Ordinance does not apply to those who possess a 'Land Hunting Permit' (Section 82-3(d)) and set out feed for the purpose of baiting and attracting game animals.
If you have any questions regarding the ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wildlife within the city limits, please contact the City of New Braunfels Watershed Management Division at (830) 221-4020
ORDINANCE NO. 2018 - 58
AMENDING THE CITY OF NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS, CODE OF ORDINANCES CHAPTER 82- OFFENSES AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS, CREATING SECTIONS 82-24 TO 82-28, THAT WILL CONTAIN NEW PROVISIONS RELATED TO PROHIBITING THE FEEDING OF WILDLIFE; PROVIDING DEFINITIONS AND PENALTIES; REPEALING ALL ORDINANCES IN CONFLICT; CONTAINING A SAVINGS CLAUSE AND ESTABLISHING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
WHEREAS, the City of New Braunfels finds that feeding of wildlife has resulted in overabundant and highly concentrated populations of wildlife throughout the City and within City parks; and
WHEREAS, the feeding of deer has been shown to increase the concentration of deer in urbanized areas, thereby increasing the likelihood of collisions between vehicles and deer, and increasing damage to residential and commercial vegetation and landscaping in the City; and
WHEREAS, the City finds that overabundant deer and avian wildlife populations have contributed to an increase of bacteria pollution in the Comal River and Dry Comal Creek; and
WHEREAS, the feeding of wildlife can cause concentrated areas of biological waste, containing bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus, which can lead to water quality degradation, thereby impacting popular contact recreation waterways; and
WHEREAS, the City and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department find that discouraging and prohibiting the artificial feeding of wildlife is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the community and wildlife populations.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF
NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS, THAT:
The findings and recitations set out in the preamble to this Ordinance are found to be true and correct and are hereby adopted by the City Council and made a part hereof for all purposes.
That Chapter 82, “Offenses and Miscellaneous Provisions”, as it currently exists is amended by creating sections 82-24 to 82-28, related to prohibiting the feeding of wildlife, to read as follows:
Sec. 82-24. Definitions.
(a) “Food” means bread products, corn, fruit, oats, hay, nuts, wheat, alfalfa, salt blocks, feed, grain, vegetables, and commercially sold wildlife feed, or livestock feed, but excludes live naturally growing shrubs, live crops, plants, flowers, vegetation, gardens, trees, and fruit or nuts that have fallen on the ground or are within reach of wildlife.
(b) “Wildlife” means undomesticated animals living in the wild.
Sec. 82-25. Feeding of wildlife prohibited.
(A) Except as provided below in 82-26, (A) and (B), a person commits an offense if the person intentionally feeds wildlife by making food available for consumption on private or public property within the territorial limits of the city.
(B) A person shall be deemed to have purposely fed or caused wildlife to be fed if the person places food, as defined in this section, in any form, (not including live vegetation such as ornamental landscaping or flowers) on the ground, or within reach of wildlife.
(C) A person who violates any provision of this ordinance commits an offense.
Sec. 82-26. Exceptions; Affirmative Defenses
(A) This ordinance does not apply to the placement of food into feeders kept at a minimum of 5 feet above the ground surface and intended for birds.
(B) This ordinance does not apply to an animal control officer, veterinarian, peace officer, City employee, federal or state wildlife official, who is acting pursuant to a lawfully authorized program to treat, manage, capture, trap, hunt, or remove wildlife and who is acting within the scope of the person’s authority.
(C) This ordinance does not apply to individuals who possess a “Hunting Land Permit” as described in Section 82-3(d) and set out feed for the purpose of baiting and attracting game animals.
(D) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section if a person places food, in good faith, for the purpose of feeding domestic livestock or domestic pets located on their property.
Sec. 82-27. Enforcement.
(A) Animal Control Officers, Park Rangers, Code Compliance Officers and Police Officers are hereby given full power and authority to enforce this ordinance.
(B) It is a violation to hinder, molest or interfere with anyone authorized or empowered to perform any duty under this ordinance.
Sec. 82-28. Penalties.
(A) A person who commits a violation of this ordinance will first be given a warning and will be provided information on the negative impacts of wildlife feeding. A second offense will result in prosecution in municipal court. Any violation of this ordinance is deemed a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $75.00 or more than $500.00. Each day any violation of any provision of this Code shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.
(B) Nothing in this section shall be construed as to limit any civil action the city may take to enforce the terms of this ordinance.
It is hereby declared to be the intention of the City Council that the sections, paragraphs, sentences, clauses and phrases of this Ordinance are severable and, if any phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this Ordinance should be declared invalid by the final judgment or decree of any court of competent jurisdiction, such invalidity shall not affect any of the remaining phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs and sections of this Ordinance.
All provisions of the Code of Ordinances of the City of New Braunfels not herein amended or repealed shall remain in full force and effect.
All Ordinances or parts thereof in conflict herewith are repealed to the extent of such conflict only.
In accordance with the provisions of the City Charter, this Ordinance may be read and published by descriptive caption only. This Ordinance has been publicly available in the office of the City Secretary prior to its adoption.
This Ordinance shall become adopted and effective upon its second reading, signature required by City Charter, filing with the City Secretary’s Office and then following a six-month grace period that allows for community education and outreach. This Ordinance must also be published in a newspaper of general circulation at least one time within ten (10) days after its final passage, as required by the City Charter of the City of New Braunfels.
• Feeding wildlife in an urban setting can have negative environmental consequences. Animal scat, or fecal matter, contains many types of bacteria, including E. coli. When wildlife congregates for feeding in areas near a body of water, such as long the banks of Landa Lake or the Comal River, they leave their feces behind after they feed. This waste is then readily washed into the lake or river during the next rain storm and contaminates the water with bacteria.
• Just as it is unhealthy to feed your pets food that is designed for humans, foods like grilled meat and bread are not part of a typical wildlife diet. “People food” is often too tempting for wildlife to resist, but it cannot be properly digested and can cause potentially life-threatening consequences for animals.
• Artificial feeding can cause wildlife to lose the ability to forage for food. It can also disrupt natural migratory patterns of waterfowl, such as ducks and geese.
• Wildlife quickly become accustomed to receiving food from humans. As a result, animals lose their instinctive caution around humans. This change in their behavior makes wildlife more vulnerable to malicious acts and attacks from domestic animals.
• Changes in the behavior of one type of wildlife can cause a ripple effect through the rest of the food chain. Artificial feeding makes wildlife more vulnerable to attacks by predators which they would otherwise avoid. These predators, in turn, can become a nuisance to the wildlife being fed or the humans doing the feeding.
• The search for easy food puts wildlife in dangerous locations or in harm's way. Deer and waterfowl tend to congregate in areas where they are being fed, which is often close to roadways or waterways used for human transportation. Wildlife fed in these locations are more likely to be struck by vehicles and cause accidents.
- The City of New Braunfels Animal Control Department reports that approximately 500-550 deer carcasses are removed from city streets each year as a result from auto collisions. The New Braunfels Police Department reports an average of 15 auto/animal collisions per year with police vehicles. The New Braunfels Fire Department reports an average of 3 auto/animal collisions per year with fire vehicles.
• The unnaturally high density of the wildlife population caused by artificial feeding can increase the spread of diseases and parasites. In the wild, animals are spread out over larger areas and have less direct contact with each other. Artificial feeding causes them to come into direct contact with other animals and their waste, increasing the chances of transmitting or contracting disease.