BRISTOL, Va. — Bristol, Virginia, leaders took action Tuesday to prohibit feeding waterfowl in the city.
The City Council held first reading on an ordinance to prohibit feeding ducks and geese, especially at city parks. The 5-0 vote followed a lengthy, graphic presentation that illustrated the sheer volume of droppings found recently at Cumberland Square Park and the Eastern Little League baseball field.
If approved on second reading, the ordinance would impose a $50 fine but only if signs prohibiting feeding are posted in the immediate area and a law enforcement officer has provided a prior warning that continued feeding of wildlife will result in a violation.
Police Officer Josh Slagle showed council a number of photographs from both sites, including one illustrating more than 300 incidences of excrement on the ballfield.
“We’ve had some issues. I’ve come across exorbitant amounts of waste at area parks,” Slagle said, adding that the problem is greatest along the sidewalk near Beaver Creek and the grassy area in front of the stage and on the baseball field.
The proliferation of the waterfowl and the waste they create causes health concerns, including possible presence of botulism, parasites, viruses and bacteria such as E-coli, Slagle said.
One goose can generate about 1.5 pounds of waste per day, Slagle said, while showing photographs of large numbers of the creatures in a concentrated area.
Mayor Neal Osborne called the ordinance a “good first step” to addressing the problem.
The volume of droppings is more pronounced at Cumberland Square and Eastern Little League because that’s where much of the feeding occurs, while it’s less obvious at Sugar Hollow Park, Slagle said.
The city has also ordered lights that are designed to disturb the bird’s sleep patterns.
“If that works at Cumberland Square, we may attempt to get some lights for those other facilities,” City Manager Randy Eads said.
Tim Slagle, a board member of Bristol Virginia Little League, urged the council to take some action because the bird waste is all over the field where children play each week.
“My job is to have the field play-ready as far as dragging the field, digging the field and putting lines on the field. I spend approximately 20 to 60 hours a week working on the ballfield. Of those, 10 to 12 hours are removing goose feces from the playing field,” Tim Slagle said.
Councilman Kevin Mumpower asked Eads to look into blocking off part of the baseball field parking lot when games aren’t occurring to further discourage feeding.