Can you feed wild birds in Michigan and be charged with a felony? The answer is yes. Governor Whitmer just vetoed a bill that would have lessened the restrictions Michiganders have when choosing to feed wild birds.
Did you know you could not feed wild birds in certain areas in Michigan?
The AP and ABC12 News is reporting about this veto. Republican state representative Ken Burton of Gaylord Michigan authored House Bill 4088 which would have allowed Michigan residents to feed wild animals recreationally “regardless of any policy issued by the Natural Resources Commission”.
This bill would have allowed wildlife and bird feeding under three conditions:
- Feed must be placed either to view animals recreationally or to prevent them from starvation;
- The feed must be located within 300 feet of a residence; and
- No more than 2 gallons of feed may be placed, scattered or distributed at one time.
Whitmer vetoed that bill on October 7th because she believed the bill conflicted with Michigan’s effort to combat chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis. Both the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Farm Bureau opposed Burton’s bill. These groups believe that feeding birds is not illegal but they do not want any food placed in the wild that could ultimately attract deer to congregate.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources stated they based their opposition on science. When they were asked to point to a study that backs up their claim they could not.
Rep. Burton said that:
“Gov. Whitmer’s veto of my bipartisan legislation flies in the face of common sense, making criminals out of Michigan residents who feed the birds…Feeding animals is a great way to experience nature. Unfortunately, overly broad government rules punish individuals who simply place food in their yards — even to keep animals from starving. Filling a birdfeeder can be a crime if the food might attract deer or elk.”
Could you be charged with a felony if you feed the birds? Rep. Burton told WWJ the following:
“A lot of folks don’t realize that now, in the state of Michigan, if you feed the birds or squirrels... and any of that seed does happen to wind up on the ground, which it obviously does when birds eat, and a deer comes, at that point, you’re committing a crime…That is a misdemeanor. If it happens three times in the state of Michigan, in becomes a felony.”
The bill passed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate but as stated was vetoed by Governor Whitmer last week.
Be careful because the state has spoken and we can now chalk up another normal activity as criminal in the state of Michigan