January 16, 2015 - 7:30 PM
KAMLOOPS – It all started with giving a few birds some peanuts on a morning walk. Now, Toby Jackson faces $300 in fines and a possible court case.
Jackson started feeding some of the neighbourhood crows after doing some research on the birds’ intelligence. Beyond the ability to use tools, Jackson says the breed of bird is capable of recognizing individual faces and differentiate between friendly and harmful people.
“If good people go along and give them treats, they’ll remember that,” Jackon says as he describes his experience. “Not only that but they can pass that information on to their young. So the young can come along and recognize you without ever having seen you before. Which I find is incredible.”
Jackson says the animal has a bigger brain to body ratio than dogs.
“(Researchers) reckon that they’re more intelligent than dogs. And my experience is that they are,” he said. “I thought that I’d put that to the test a little bit.... Every time I saw a crow when I was out walking, I would give it a treat. After a while they got to know me.”
Jackson’s regular walk ,which he takes with his dog, takes about nine minutes. During his regular route, he said he would come across three separate crow families that would recognize him.
“I don’t stop. I just walk along and then they might follow me along. Then they peel off and another family starts,” he said. “There’s never great hordes of crows. They stick to their own areas.”
He’s been feeding them for the last three years. His interest in the animals’ habits began after he watched the PBS documentary A Murder of Crows.
But Jackson stopped his routine when it started to cost him.
The 58-year-old was handed two nuisance-related bylaw violation tickets, totalling $300 in fines, in November after his neighbour complained about him feeding the crows in his Valleyview neighbourhood.
“It’s extremely silly it’s happening,” Jackson said. “I’m certainly not the only one doing it.”
The bylaw Jackson is accused of violating was created in November 2010.
“When this bylaw memo was put in to bylaw it was because people were feeding birds on private property and creating a significant nuisance to surrounding properties or people in the area,” Jon Wilson with the City's bylaw department said.
Wilson added the law is enforced only after complaints are made and if there is sufficient proof. It normally wouldn't include those who feed birds in parks, he said.
“The difference here is it's directly impacting peoples’ property,” Wilson said.
Jackson said before receiving the tickets, he was approached by a neighbour who asked him to stop feeding the crows. He agreed to not feed them near his neighbour’s house but still received tickets after a formal complaint was made.
“They hardly ever fly across his house,” Jackson said. “That same neighbour has actually driven his car around the corner and parked there just so he could watch me.”
Penalty for the bylaw infraction ranges from $25 to $2,000 and is up to the court’s discretion. Jackson said he plans to dispute his tickets in court on Jan. 29. If he pleads not guilty, the matter could go forward to trial.
DO CROWS REMEMBER GOOD PEOPLE?
This Kamloops couple rescued a baby crow in 2013 and documented its recovery. Now, they've added more videos of supposed return visits from their crow friend they named Max.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015