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Bird feeders rationed to one ounce a day

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 30, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- The City Council decided Thursday how much birdseed a person can toss in a city park in one day without endangering the public health: one ounce.

Though the quota exasperated some council members, it passed 5-3.

"If I were an editorial cartoonist, I'd draw a guy in a cell," council member Bill Foster declared. " "What are you in for?' "I'm in for possession of more than an ounce of bird feed.' "

On Nov. 9, the council passed a temporary -- and total -- ban on feeding non-aquatic birds to try to control a couple who drew huge flocks of birds daily by feeding them lots of seed in a western St. Petersburg park. Neighbors worried that bird excrement might cause disease.

The council revisited the ban Thursday, wanting to keep retirees and kids who toss bread crumbs within the law's graces. An assistant city attorney displayed on the dais various quantities of seed and bread measured into plastic baggies. (An ounce of birdseed is 23/4 tablespoons. An ounce of white supermarket bread is one slice.)

Council member Virginia Littrell, an avid bird feeder, set the wings of a mechanical eagle flapping as she spoke.

"This is a silly way to address this," she told her colleagues. She, Foster and John Bryan voted no.

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