THE CITY SCOOP: Litterbug critters are in the clear

Each week, Herald reporter Brandi Jewett answers your questions about local government, laws and other local topics.

Feeding squirrels in Grand Forks is not illegal. Photo credit: http://ginormasource.com.

Q: We enjoy providing peanuts in the shell to the squirrels and blue jays in our backyard. Not all these peanuts get shelled and consumed in our backyard, however. They get transported throughout the neighborhood and even though the quantity involved isn’t large, we wondered if we are guilty of littering or breaking some animal ordinance?

A: While your furry little friends may be discarding their treats willy-nilly, it seems you are in the clear as far as breaking laws go.

Public Health Director Don Shields says he is not aware of any city or state law that prohibits feeding peanuts, bird seed or sunflower seeds to birds and squirrels — even if they are carrying the shells away and depositing them throughout the neighborhood.

The shells are biodegradable and would cause no problems in small quantities, according to Shields. If your neighborhood yard looks like someone emptied a dump truck full of peanuts on it, you may be pushing the definition of “small quantities.”

In the end, city law doesn’t prohibit feeding squirrels, but if Bambi shows up looking for a meal then you could have some trouble. It is against city law to feed deer.

As far as the squirrel’s antics being considered littering, it would likely depend on the amount.

The Grand Forks litter law says no person or company should throw “any kind of dirt, rubbish, waste article, thing or substance whatsoever, whether liquid or solid” onto or into streets, berms, rivers, drains, sewers or receiving basin within city limits.

Now, peanuts are things, but I’m sure they are fine in small quantities as Shields said. I don’t think your squirrels’ habit of playing with their food will earn you a citation anytime soon.

Q: Are they going to come around for another pass with the leaf pickup program in Grand Forks this season, or are they all done? I still have leaves that haven’t dropped from my trees.

A: Don’t worry, your trees have a little time yet to shed their leaves.

The vacuum trucks that pick up leaves aren’t done with their rounds quite yet.

As of Friday, Nov. 1, the crews had completed two passes through the city. The third and final pass starts today, according to city spokesman Kevin Dean.

If you want your leaves picked up, place them in loose piles on the berm.

To keep tabs on the leaf collecting crews, check the city’s Facebook page or contact the Public Information Center by dialing 311 to see where the crews are working.

For those of you who may miss the last sweep or are just adventurous, the city will continue to keep drop-off sites open — likely until the end of November — for anyone who wants to transport leaves on their own.

Q: What is the expected date of completion for the city’s construction project on south 62nd Avenue between Washington Street and Columbia Road?

A: The only project the city has underway on the road is the installation of a sanitary sewer lift station, according to Dean.

If that is the project you’re referring to, the answer to your question is: Soon.

The contractor overseeing the project hopes to have it completed this week, Dean said.

Have questions? Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108 or (800) 477-6572 extension 1108, email bjewett@gfherald.com, follow her on Twitter at @GFCityBeat or see her blog at citystreetbeat.areavoices.com.

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