GEARHART — Eight months ago, inspired by an ordinance in Warrenton, Bebe Michel asked Gearhart to ban wildlife feeding to discourage human interaction with elk, deer, bear and other wild animals.
Michel saw the ordinance as one way to cope with an ongoing concern over elk in Gearhart, where at times it seems the animals outnumber residents and every encounter comes with risk.
On Wednesday, Michel was in the audience at the City Council meeting as Ordinance 917 received unanimous approval.
“The attracting or feeding of wildlife within the city limits is declared to be a public nuisance and safety issue and is prohibited,” the ordinance states.
Along with elk, residents and visitors may not feed bear, cougar, coyote or wolves, among other animals.
Feeding songbirds and squirrels is permitted, provided the food is contained in a feeder.
Violations could bring a penalty of up to $500, but officials hope they’ll find compliance before issuing fines.
The ordinance will become law in 30 days.
After the meeting, City Administrator Chad Sweet credited Michel with “a lot of great work. Not only does she come up with ideas, she also helps us with the solutions.”
For Michel, this is the first city ordinance she’s seen to fruition.
“Sitting here today, I was really kind of amazed at myself that I had proposed an ordinance and now seen how it went from proposal to work sessions and wended its way through the entire process to get to this point where we now have the ordinance in place,” she said.
“Two years ago, if you had told me that I would have done this, I would have said, ‘No, that’s not ever going to be something I’m going to do.’ When people say one person can’t do anything, I’m proof that that isn’t the case.”