Flagstaff voters won’t be getting a chance to weigh in at the ballot on a wildlife feeding ban.
Petition circulators Joe Farnsworth and Joe Ray turned in just 575 signatures by Thursday’s deadline, well short of the 1,046 needed to take the ordinance to referendum. Once City Clerk Elizabeth Burke verifies with the secretary of state that the signatures are insufficient, the law will take effect. That process is expected to take a few days.
Farnsworth said he collected about 510 signatures by himself but other volunteers weren’t as diligent. He accused many residents of being “apathetic,” estimating that up to 65 percent of those he approached at the post office and library expressed no interest in the interest or claimed to have no time to sign his petition.
He said that with less than a month to turn in signatures, he lacked the time to get the permits needed from shopping centers to circulate petitions there.
Ray said that on advice from their attorney, he and Farnsworth will pursue other options.
He declined to provide details, saying only he would be meeting with the attorney in the near future.
The ban, which passed on a 6-1 vote by City Council in September, applies to all wildlife except birds and squirrels. It sets a series of escalating fines and even possible jail time for serial offenders.
State wildlife officials say wild animals risk becoming dependent on humans if fed and unable to survive in the wild if the food is withdrawn.
Ray contends the city and state are inserting themselves into what is a private dispute between neighbors and addressing a problem that doesn’t exist: Very few residents complain of wildlife being overfed or trampling their gardens.
He also says the city is incurring unnecessary liability if deer or other wildlife come into conflict with residents where the feeding ban has not been properly enforced.