Can Apartment Tenants Feed Wildlife on the Premises in Washington?

Do any of my fellow ThriftyFun Family members happen to know the legality of a landlord telling tenants that we can no longer feed the squirrels and birds "out of the shell" nuts? We were notified that each of us who do will have to pay a non-refundable $300.00 pet fee because they will consider them to be our pets :-o

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I asked why and was told that the birds and squirrels go on to peoples' patios/decks. I somehow think those cute creatures don't really understand human boundaries ;-)

Anyway, there are only four resident squirrels, two ducks and three or four, some years six, blackbirds in an 88 unit apartment complex so it's not like we are overrun with critters. I am just hoping to hear some feedback about this situation and if anyone knows if it's legal for the landlords to say no feeding and especially can they try to charge a non-refundable fee.

There are only a handful of us who feed these babes and we take turns and don't do it every day and only feed out of the shell nuts which do not leave a mess because they gobble them all up. We know we can not feed them every day because otherwise they would come to depend on that food and that would not be a good thing for their self sufficiency.

By Deeli from Richland, WA

June 11, 20100 found this helpful

I wish they would do that where I live. the squirrels dig the dirt out of my flower pots and eat the roots, the rabbits eat the foliage. Then there is a flock of roughly 14 wild turkeys, that some people sprinkle feed for on their patios. People also feed the blasted squirrels. There is no way of knowing for sure how many squirrels, rabbits, etc. live around an area, because I'm sure they don't all appear at one time. The reason I know about the turkeys is because one day there was a row of them walking one behind the other as they went past my apartment and I counted them. If it wasn't illegal to shoot these critters I would be getting a pellet gun and have some fun.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

Oh yes! another disadvantage of having all of these "cute" critters around is how do we know if any of them are rabid or not? They can also carry other diseases.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

Look at the tenant laws; it does state something about causing a nuisance or damage to the "common" areas. Are they saying that the animals being fed are causing a nuisance or damage? Is this because of feces left on the ground? Could they be stating this because of health conditions? I see it both ways; enjoyment for the tenants feeding the animals, yet the landlord wants all tenants to be happy & safe.

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June 11, 20100 found this helpful

I bet other tenants have complained to the landlord and are afraid that feeding the animals will draw more of them to the area. Squirrels can damage roofs and chew electrical wire. Birds foul the sidewalks with their poop. The landlord can do as he chooses, it's his property. If I lived there I would not want to attract vermin to my apartment building.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

I would suggest the owner is a control freak. Certainly just mean. I would think he would have to prove damage. Of course there is none. The definition of a pet is a domesticated animal. These are wild. He would want $300 for hummingbird sugar water and call that a pet? As for damage, I have fed all sorts all of my life. No damage. Racoons are supposed to be bad and i am sure they can be. One of my kitties sleeps with them. I feed them everyday. Bet there is nothing in rental contract about this because people would refuse to rent with such stupid controlling rules. Tell your landlord what he is trying is illegal.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

I don't have an answer for you but I just wanted to chip in some support for you. The world is full of killjoys who only like nature in it's own place, and want to shoot/trap/poison it if it dares to cross into the front garden! (or yard, if you're an American!) I feed loads of birds out the front of my house, and I will always do so.

Yes, it's a pain having to pull up assorted cereal grasses that have taken root every now and again, but that's nothing compared to the fact that I am helping these poor creatures who lose yet more feeding areas every time some idiot pours concrete and flagstones over his garden (yard!). I recommend sneaking out at night dressed in black to deposit food for the beasties - sort of ninja style! Don't let the miseries get you down!

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

I don't know if it's legal, I do think it's mean. Completely agree with you, rachelanwen.

Marg from England.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

The point is, you are renting and must follow the rules whether you approve or not. As a former landlord, I have had tenants completely ignore rules I had good reason for putting in the lease. This may not make sense to you but you are stepping over a boundary if you do not comply. I love to feed wildlife but your landlord does not. You can follow the rules or pay the fee.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

First, you don't own that apartment-you have to follow the rules. And if you are feeding them or taking turns, you are domesticating them. Not good. If you want to take the chance that the fleas they carry don't have plague and the whole pack is rabies and orinthosis free, then buy a house in the woods. I love them too, but we are all different, and your neighbors may not appreciate it!

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

Since they are considered wild animals, they probably end up on the patios regardless of whether or not you feed them.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

Definitely check the laws out. The landlord is probably a manager so the property may or may not be there's to do with as they please. In Oregon, we can't charge a fee or deposit for birds, iguanas, gerbils, snakes, etc. They are considered caged and not pets that will harm the property. And most people can't just "buy a house in the woods" so there's that.

Good luck sweety.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

I don't know the rules, but it may be that the landlord can make that rule. Feeding squirrels and birds is NOT domesticating them, and I would think that they would be LESS nuisance to others plants and whatnot if they were attracted to someone else's patio, where the treats were being served. As far as fleas and so on, I don't think that anyone needs to worry about that. These animals don't carry rabies, or diseases, or fleas that are going to spread to humans. If people had more contact with wild animals, they would know that, instead of being fearful of harmless things such as blackbirds and squirrels.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if someone in your apartment complex has raised a fuss, just as some of the posters here are doing, and this is the landlords way of putting a stop to it and appeasing the complainers.

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June 14, 20100 found this helpful

Just sprinkle the seeds on the outside of the property line.

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June 14, 20100 found this helpful

Too many people just don't want to be nice! Either to other people or nature. I only hope it's true that what goes around comes around.

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June 14, 20100 found this helpful

Squirrels CAN carry rabies & diseases, even though it's rarer than with other animals.They can also carry ticks that transmit Lyme disease if you are in that part of the country. Google it. I found this for WA state which could answer your question about why not-it says they can be aggressive(I imagine the ducks can too): http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/tree_squirrels.htm

Maybe other residents have complained about bird droppings or something? Who knows if they are being a nuisance or frightening to other residents? I'm just saying you shouldn't be so hasty to criticize or call them mean if you don't understand their reason.

That being said, I love to watch the silly young squirrels play in my back yard, I love the birds (except the nuisance grackles & starlings) & I love the rabbits that come after the clover in my yard(even though they can carry fleas & disease). I think the chances of catching a disease is pretty slim & if they aren't making a mess or scaring other people, maybe you just need to educate these people?

First, maybe see if they can give you specific reasons for their decision, then maybe you can call the state wildlife dept. in your state & see what they say,make sure there isn't a law against it,do some internet research, get some positive evidence you can use as ammunition & then ask them to reconsider their decision when you present them with the facts?

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Anonymous Flag
June 15, 20100 found this helpful

Hi Everyone :-) I want to thank each and every one of you for your comments!

I found out the scoop regarding the reason for the new 'no feed the critters rule' and personally have a happy ending as do the squirrels and birdies and the stray kitties too!

The new rule to not feed the animals was put in to place for two reasons. The first was because it turns out a couple of the people on the back side of the apartment complex were feeding feral cats leftover food from their own meals and the management was tired of the cleanup (including chicken and beef bones) and having to trap the poor cats and then drive them about an hour round trip for each kitty to take them to a no kill shelter two cities away (Bless management for taking the time to drive to a no kill shelter!). The other hoopla was caused because one of the tenants had been feeding the squirrels on their patio and then got upset when the squirrels started going potty on their patio and then they kept coming on to their patio after the feeding stopped (I am assuming looking for the expected food that had been given to them there before) and the tenant started complaining to management about it so management absolutely had to make a blanket statement about not feeding animals in order to stop the irresponsible behavior because of these two issues :-(

I thank each and every one of you who gave kind, understanding and don't give up answers and advice to my question and want you to know that I was, in a round about way, given a wink and a smile to just be discreet and keep my mouth quiet and continue giving the 'out of the shell nuts' to the birds and squirrels ;-)

I feel badly for those of you who seem to be so overrun with creatures that you're hateful enough of them that you want them dead and gone for human convenience sake. :-( Where I live, in a small city area in a high desert area, there are precious few to enjoy interaction with. The wild critters are definitely not the nuisance, it is we humans who are the nuisance to them because we want what we want when we want and have taken over their space. :-( We humans are also a nuisance because we aren't responsible enough to spay and neuter cats and dogs who are not able to fend for themselves as well as the birds and squirrels can fend for themselves when left on their own. :-(

I also want you to know that in my area trees and plants, other than tumbleweed, are far and few between and damage from the birds and squirrels is not possible in my area when it comes to electrical and cable wiring because it's all underground nor is damage possible to my apartment complex roof because the roof is clay tile. ;-)

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August 12, 20100 found this helpful

Deeli, I am not hateful just see my view. I paid a hefty deposit for my doggie to live with me. The raccoons are bigger than him and thanks to the kind ladies who leave food out for them my doggie cannot be out after sunset at all. Also now we have possums and raccoons out eating dropped birdseed and not to mention the bird droppings on those porches. I feed the hummers. But also the dumpster is left open by the nice people so that the raccoons can find food, in the trash. I now have a neighbor who gets paid take my trash out. I took trash out one morning and a raccoon hissed at me. Hey I was scared too! They are cute but disease carriers. I do enjoy watching squirrels hop from tree to tree. And one neighbor has so much bird seed dropped onto her porch and the droppings are horrid she gets a possum and raccoon visit nightly. Thank goodness this is not to close to me.

I just think they get enough out in the fields and what happens when all the "feeders" move and no one is there to feed them? I just thought you would at least understand why some of us are not feeders. I think raccoons are cute but do not want them daily hanging around. The squirrels are fun to watch as I do and the birds. I do not want them dead just let them be. They have a creek, grass, lots of trees here to keep them busy. In winter I do put out bread crumbs, corn at the trees not in my yard and this ok with mngmt. here.

Good luck!

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Anonymous Flag
August 14, 20100 found this helpful

Hi Meoowmom, I completely understand and empathize with your point of view and circumstance ;-) Did you happen to read my update comment posted 6/15 just below what you just posted here? It's a good outcome for the very sparse amount of critters where I live. :-)

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