A group of Huntington Beach residents wants to start an educational campaign to get people to stop feeding wildlife in area parks.
The wildlife feeding ad hoc committee of the city’s Huntington Central Park Committee will present its proposal at a future meeting of the Community Services Commission in hopes of getting the official OK to proceed, according to Marie Knight, city community services director. The idea received unanimous approval from the Central Park Committee on Wednesday, with some suggestions.
If the plan gets the green light, banners will be placed in Central Park near Kathy May’s Lakeview Cafe at 6622 Lakeview Drive and Mike Bartusick‘s Park Bench Cafe at 17732 Goldenwest St.
Members of the wildlife committee also plan to use social media to help educate residents and to pass out fliers reminding them that it’s against city and state laws to feed wildlife. They also envision art contests for schoolchildren.
About $1,700 collected from grants and donations will help fund the project, according to Steve Engel, chairman of the wildlife committee.
For years, some residents — including the late Kathy May — have tried to deter people from feeding ducks, geese, squirrels and other animals. There also are signs throughout Central Park, but the issue continues.
People have been feeding the animals for so long that they might not be aware it’s a problem, Engel said.
“People feed [wildlife] cookies and bread because they think they’re hungry, but the truth is, there’s plenty of food for them to eat in nature,” he said. “This people food is junk food to them and that makes them sick, and a lot of times they end up in the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center.”
“We’re just trying to educate people,” he added.
At Park Bench Cafe, Bartusick said he’s seen at least an 80% increase in ground squirrels since he took over the restaurant in 1988 because people feed them. The squirrels reproduce and create holes that become hazardous to visitors, he said.
The committee’s project may be a step in the right direction, Bartusick said.