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Tacoma police cite Point Defiance Park drivers for parking, traffic violations

August 10, 2017

Goal is to ensure visitor safety and compliance with city laws and park rules

Tacoma police issued 29 citations and 76 warnings in Point Defiance Park during enhanced law enforcement patrols between June 10 and July 30.

Most of the citations issued were for illegal parking and motor vehicle offenses. Among them were speeding, insurance, equipment and license violations.

Additionally, police issued 23 warnings and two citations for smoking, which is illegal in Tacoma’s parks. Two warnings were issued for illegal feeding of wildlife, which is against the law in Tacoma.

The warnings and citations are the result of a contract between Metro Parks Tacoma and Tacoma police to boost patrols in Point Defiance Park this summer. The accounting of citations and warnings covers the first eight weekends of patrols.

It is hoped that the increased presence of law enforcement will limit the number of motorists who exceed the parks 20 mph speed limit.

“The effect of these patrols extends well beyond the number of citations and warnings issued,” said Phedra Redifer, Metro Parks regional parks attractions manager. “Simply having more uniformed officers in the park helps ensure the safety of park visitors, particularly along Five Mile Drive where past speed-related accidents have occurred.”

Police are on the lookout for people who illegally feed wildlife, such as raccoons and waterfowl. Feeding wild animals endangers both the animals and people who encounter them.

Park Ranger Mary 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.

“People may mean well, but they probably don’t realize that feeding actually does more harm than good,” Krauszer said. “The animals’ behavior changes. They stay active during the day even though raccoons are nocturnal. They learn to approach humans for food – and they can be aggressive.”

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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