Tacoma parks to issue $532 citations to people who feed wildlife

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 15 at 5:41 PM

Starting Monday, anyone caught feeding wildlife in Tacoma parks will be issued a $532 citation.

Aggressive animals have become a bit of a problem at the park and in other parts of Western Washington. Last week a jogger was attacked by raccoons.

Park officials are trying to protect both the wildlife and people with increased enforcement.

“I've sat here in this park and had raccoons, wild raccoons, come just walk right up to me and sit at my feet,” said park visitor Vinks McIntire.

McIntire says he never feeds the animals, but he's seen plenty of other people do it.

“I have gone out and pointed out the signs to people who do this,” he said.

The signs have been up for years, but the Metro Parks Tacoma is taking their enforcement to another level. They've contracted with Tacoma Police to put officers in the parks. People caught feeding the animals face the possibility of a $532 dollar fine, but police say that's not the goal

"Mainly an educator, educating the visitors on the law the safety the dangers of it the hazards of it,” said Officer Gerry Turney.

It can lead to overpopulation and take a toll on the health of the animals.

 “They're supposed to be nocturnal but when people feed them during the day they break up their normal natural habits,” said Marina Becker, Parks Superintendent.

On Monday, off-duty police officers will begin to conduct focused patrols at random times, with special enforcement efforts in parks where chronic feeding and overpopulation issues persist.

KING 5's Susan Wyatt and Amy Moreno contributed to this report

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