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Warning: Expect a ticket if you feed wildlife in Point Defiance Park

July 1, 2017


Speeding, dangerous parking, wildlife feeding: The grace period is over.

Since Metro Parks Tacoma contracted with Tacoma police to boost patrols in Point Defiance Park a couple of weeks ago, officers have been reminding people that it’s against city law to feed raccoons, waterfowl and other wildlife.

From now on, violators caught in the act by police will be issued citations and fined.

Metro Parks also has asked police to issue tickets for illegal parking near no-parking signs and for vehicles parked so far into the road that emergency vehicles cannot pass. Double-parking on the road down to Owen Beach has been a particular concern, so police have been asked to patrol that area in particular.

Speeding is also problem behavior Metro Parks is attempting to curb, along with smoking, which is illegal in all parks. On June 10, the first day of the extra enforcement, two warnings for speeding, two warnings for lack of seatbelts and two citations for smoking in the park were issued.

“We need to ensure the safety of park visitors,” said Phedra Redifer, Metro Parks regional parks attractions manager.

As for wildlife feeding, Metro Parks mounted a similar, successful campaign to stamp out the practice in 2012. Even feeding the peacocks that roam Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium isn’t good for the animals, but it was the growing problem of feeding raccoons that prompted the enforcement campaign, said Park Ranger Mary Krauszer.

Krauszer said most of the people feeding raccoons in Point Defiance Park do so without getting out of their vehicles, which makes it difficult for her to intervene.

Raccoons frequently bite people who are feeding them. Raccoon bites can cause very serious injury and can lead to medical evaluation for rabies post exposure treatment. Children can pick up roundworms through exposure to raccoon feces; leptospirosis in raccoon urine contaminates water and soil where kids may play.

Add to those risks the dangers of raccoons getting too close to moving cars. Krauszer has observed the results, which often are deadly for raccoons. Krauszer also noted that the food people tend to give them – dog food, cat food and french fries – amounts to raccoon junk food.

“Wild raccoons can easily forage for themselves and stay healthier doing so,” she said. “They are not starving.”

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