Pennsylvania town’s $1,000-a-day fine is for the birds, residents say

Published January 21, 2014


A retired Pennsylvania couple is facing a $1,000-a-day fine for feeding birds at their Bethlehem Township home, The Morning Call reported.

The couple has been feeding the birds for 25 years at their home, which is north of Philadelphia, but their bird feeder has been deemed out of compliance with town code.

Those who support the fine say the bird-feeding ordinance is in place to deter the habitation of squirrels and other rodents in the area, the report said. The ordinance, in part, calls for a squirrel-proof top and catch basin affixed at the bottom of all bird feeders. 

Increased enforcement of the ordinance appears to be the result of a resident complaining about bird feeders in the area attracting deer.

"After all this, it's all about deer," said Diane Ganssle, the homeowner who was visited by a code enforcement officer in December. "Deer are there without the feeders."

Ganssle said after the officer left her house, she took down the dozen feeders, but left up a 3-foot tube feeder, the report said. But that tube feeder was found to be not in compliance.

"And I am required to empty [the basin] at least once a day," Bill Ganssle, her husband, told the paper. "But sometimes I do it twice, and sometimes I'm out there six, eight times a day chasing the squirrels."

Commissioners President Tom Nolan told the paper that the ordinance has flaws and said, "The board will get together to review this ordinance. There is something quite valid in what you are saying ... and we do feel compassion for the animals.''

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