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Bird feeder ordinance could get wings clipped in Bethlehem Twp.

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 18 2014 06:59:25 AM CST
Bethlehem Twp. commissioners
BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

Officials in one Northampton County municipality appeared perched and ready to declaw a bird feeder ordinance Monday night that recently targeted a bird-feeding couple with a $1,000 a day fine because their birdhouses were deemed out of compliance with a township code.

The current Bethlehem Twp. ordinance requires squirrel-proof top and catch basins, to deter squirrels and other rodents from moving in on the bird feed.

Thomas Nolan, the president of the township board of commissioners, all but said the situation the couple, Diane and Bill Ganssele, found themselves in is for the birds and outlined the case for nullifying the vector control ordinance they violated.

Nolan has at least one supporter to repeal the law, fellow commissioner Michael Hudak.

“I think it’s a no-brainer,” Hudak said.

The bird feeder provision in the ordinance is essentially a dinosaur, Nolan pointed out, saying it was passed 40 years ago.

Nolan said the time has come for the township to rely solely on the International Property Maintenance Code for rodent and pest control in the township. The code spells out enforcement provisions involving the “harborage of rodents.”

Nolan, reading from a prepared statement, said the international code does not specifically mention bird feeders.

“However, if there appears to the code official that a rodent problem is being caused by bird feeders (or junk cars for that matter) then enforcement action could be taken at that time.”