PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners has passed a ban forbidding the feeding of wild animals within town limits.
The ordinance states, “The Board of Commissioners has received complaints from members of the community regarding the unsafe feeding of wild animals inside the corporate limits of the town. … The Board of Commissioners believes it to be in the best interest of the citizens of the town of Pilot Mountain to amend Chapter 6 of its Code of Ordinances to regulate the feeding of certain wild animals.”
During discussion at the town board’s meeting this week, Commissioner Gary Bell asked if people could still feed stray dogs and cats under this rule. Town Manager Michael Boaz said no.
The ordinance notes that N.C. General Statute 160A-186 gives the town the authority to regulate domestic animals in the town limits.
The “dog catcher” rule says a town can prohibit animals including dogs and cats from running loose. It may seize the animals for sale or have them destroyed “after reasonable efforts to notify their owner.”
The next N.C. statute, 160A-187, gives the town the ability to prohibit the harboring of wild or dangerous animals within the town limits.
In the new ordinance under feeding of animals, it states:
“Wild animals are any animal which is not normally domesticated in this state, including, but not limited to, bears, coyotes, deer, feral cats, foxes, groundhogs, opossums, raccoons, skunks, turkeys and waterfowl, and any domesticated, unlicensed animal, including but not limited to stray cats and/or dogs.
“The keeping, possession, harboring or feeding of wild animals which threaten the public health, safety and welfare of the community shall be unlawful.”
The ordinance makes an exception for the typical bird feeder, but notes, “It shall be unlawful to distribute feed to or feed turkey, ducks, geese, other water fowl and other large birds.”
The penalty for violating this law the first time is a $100 fine. The second offense is $250. The third time is $1,000.
“Each subsequent day that a violation continues is considered to be a separate violation subject to escalating penalties.”
Commissioner Evan Cockerham said that on his street there is a problem with skunks and vultures. Someone in the area is feeding the wildlife and now the animals are taking up residence there. The houses are having shingles damaged on the roofs because of the vultures landing on them.
The vulture is a protected migratory bird, so no one can harm them, he noted.
One resident spoke up to ask if he could shoot a groundhog on his property.
Mayor Dwight Atkins said no because there can be no discharge of firearms in the town limits.
Another resident spoke up and said traps can be set to catch the animals. Then they can be removed from the property.
After discussion, the board voted 3-0 (with Commissioner Kim Quinn out of town) in favor of the ordinance.
After the official business, Commissioner Linda Needham asked Police Chief Darryl Bottoms about getting more signs up downtown about not having dogs on Main Street. Some people weren’t seeing the signs and were violating the ban, she said.
Atkins said perhaps the town should revisit that issue.
Cockerham said a lot of folks do bring their dogs downtown already, and there doesn’t seem to be a problem. If the owners aren’t controlling their dogs on their leashes, then they are legally liable for any damages that occur.
The meeting had already adjourned by this point, and no further action took place.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com