City of Long Beach prohibits feeding wildlife
June 26, 2014
After learning that birds may contract diseases from eating human food, the city of Long Beach now prohibits visitors from feeding the wildlife, particularly in El Dorado Park.
In a city council meeting on June 17, 5th district Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske discussed how birds play a role in the environment, and how people have a responsibility to maintain their existence.
The Winged Wonders Banner Project, a joint effort between Schipske and the 5th District Lakes, Ponds and Wetlands Taskforce to support birdlife, focused on wildlife in the El Dorado Park Duck Pond.
“I… traditionally thought it was okay to take bread and feed ducks,” Schipske said during the meeting. “What we found in the numerous years of research we did was that the food that we use as humans hurts the wildlife.”
To prevent people from feeding birds human food, banners with information were posted around the park, such as images of the 22 bird species living in the park, their calls and their diets.
“The focus of this project was to try to figure out a way to educate the public about the importance of the birds and the wildlife that live in the duck pond,” Schipske said.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a nonprofit organization that studies and conserves birds, also contributed to the cause by giving Long Beach the rights to use the information that is currently on the banners. The organization provided sounds of different ducks that people could listen to on their cellphone by calling a number located on a banner if they want to familiarize bird songs.
At the meeting, Schipske also showed a video clip showing wildlife, signs that were put up and her interviewing El Dorado Audubon Society member Mary Parsell.
“One thing that we did early is take a census to keep track of what birds are here,” Parsell said. “And really, we have birds that are here year- round, and we have migratory birds that come through.”
Parsell then mentioned that birds should be left to eat the plants and animals they find in the grass or water. Parsell said she is opposes feeding bread to the birds.
“I think they can’t digest it,” Parsell said. “It makes them sick basically.”
While people such as Parsell contributed to this project, not everyone thinks that this project will end human food distribution to birds.
“I do think it would work for the most part, but not completely because some people are careless,” junior biology major Gisell Acuna said.