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'What motivates someone to do this?' Meat left in Mississauga, Ont. parks in apparent attempts to feed wild animals

Meat is shown hanging from a sign at a Mississauga park. Large amounts of meat are being left in public parks across Mississauga in an apparent attempt to feed wild animals and officials say that they are growing increasingly concerned about the practice. (City of Mississauga) Meat is shown hanging from a sign at a Mississauga park. Large amounts of meat are being left in public parks across Mississauga in an apparent attempt to feed wild animals and officials say that they are growing increasingly concerned about the practice. (City of Mississauga)
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Large amounts of meat are being left in public parks across Mississauga in an apparent attempt to feed wild animals and officials say that they are growing increasingly concerned about the practice.

The most recent incident occurred in Settler’s Green Park near Glen Erin Drive and Battleford Road on Monday when a passerby located a “large ball of meat” that was about the size of a bowling ball, Animal Services public education officer Parathan Mohanarajan told CP24.

Mohanarajan, however, said that animal services staff have been finding both raw and cooked meat dumped in parks and even on private property for weeks now.

In some occasions, the food has been dumped haphazardly on the ground but, in at least one instance, slabs of meat were actually hung from a sign welcoming visitors to a park. In another instance, the meat was left in open containers between two private buildings unbeknownst to the property owners, Mohanarajan said.

“In the past, we have experienced issues with individuals trying to feed wildlife, whether it be like pigeons, squirrels or chipmunks, with like peanuts or bread or bird seeds. But this year, it has been an unprecedented amount of feeding where we are seeing large amounts of food being dumped on public properties, like our green spaces, trails and parks, and we are even getting reports of people dumping meat and food on private properties,” Mohanarajan told CP24.com. “I don’t believe I have ever seen it at this scale, or with this amount of food, or this consistently.”

Mohanarajan said that officials have noticed an increase in coyote reports in and around Settler’s Green Park, where a number of incidents involving large amounts of meat have occurred.

He said that the quantity of meat being left in parks is such that it is clear it is “intentional” and not just scraps leftover from someone’s lunch.

“We've had reports about like ground beef, piles of chicken and pulled pork. Whoever's doing this, it's not cheap. It's large amounts of meat,” he said. “I’m still trying to try to figure out what motivates someone to do this, especially with all the outreach and all the educational information that we have that the community can access.”

Mississauga already has a bylaw in place that makes it illegal to feed wildlife or leave food out to attract animals on both public and private properties, with the exception of some birds.

A similar bylaw will also take effect in Toronto this weekend.

Mohanarajan said that in the wake of the recent incidents, animal services staff have been going door-to-door in the neighbourhoods surrounding Settler’s Green Park to advise the public about the dangers of feeding wild animals,

He said that officials are also doing regular patrols of the park and have posted signage in the area.

“We don't want any sort of negative interactions with wildlife and people or pets. But the problem is that when people start feeding wildlife the wildlife will start losing that natural fear of humans and they start approaching humans. Oftentimes, that can lead to negative interactions with people,” he said. “Let’s say it is a coyote, for instance. It will see people in the park and if it has been conditioned, they will go up to that individual and it might act aggressively or nip at them or bite them, almost as like a signal to feed them.”

Mohanarajan said that there have also been multiple reports this spring about dog food being dumped on soccer fields and baseball diamonds in Mississauga.

He said that the incidents have been happening on an almost weekly basis since earlier this month, frustrating animal control staff and residents alike. 

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