Man Accused Of Breaking Bird Feeding Law Might Be Jailed

BLOOMINGTON (WCCO) — A Bloomington man is facing possible jail time, accused of breaking a city ordinance that prohibits residents from feeding wild animals.

In Bloomington, it is legal to use bird feeders — as long as they are 5 feet off the ground. Neighbors and the charges allege that Craig Brown was throwing feed onto the ground, which is illegal.

For years, Brown said he tried to make his backyard a haven for birds.

Now, birds rarely visit Brown’s backyard. Months ago, Brown removed all his bird feeders after he said those feeders landed him in trouble with the law.

“I am nervous,” said Brown. “They have the right to send me to jail.”

A video taken by a neighbor in December showed the Bloomington City Attorney just how popular Brown’s yard was for animals. In the video, dozens of birds are seen eating from the ground.

Neighbors said the food didn’t just bring birds, it also brought rodents, which then chewed on their property.

“You have an impact on your neighbors. Your backyard and what you do in it can damage the livability of neighbors’ house,” said Sandra Johnson, the Bloomington City Attorney.

Brown claimed his bird feeding fell in line with the city ordinance.

“I was still putting the feed in feeders. I was doing it legally, but I was getting these ducks in here. What do I do?” said Brown.

According to the criminal complaint, however, Brown admitted to deliberately throwing food on the ground. He claimed the seeds on the ground came from the hanging feeders.

“In this case, I believe the resident was initially warned, but he continued to feed on the ground,” said Johnson.

As Brown prepares to fight for a hobby he can no longer enjoy, he also realizes a not guilty verdict is not necessarily a win.

“I promise they’ll never see a bird feeder in my yard. It’s ruined it for me. I can’t ever do it again,” said Brown.

Brown did have the option of avoiding jail time by pleading guilty, but it is a misdemeanor charge that would have stayed on his record, which was his concern.

Brown’s maximum punishment could be 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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  • Jay

    Man, am I ever glad I dont have your neighbors!!!

    • Ed

      Why aren’t the neighbors being charged with invasion of privacy? They are no legal right to video record this guy over a fence in his backyard. And if you have rat problems maybe it’s YOU who need to clean up your house!

      • Soldier of Fortune

        It’s not an invasion of privacy; if you can be clearly seen from off the property… even from a aircraft flying over your house, you’re fair game for anyone to view or photograph you.

        And bird seed on the ground, even that which falls out of a feeder, does attract unwanted vermin besides the desired birds.

      • Josie

        But ED – Who will the neighbor BLAME when the rats don’t leave his house that has garbage lying in and around it; then the neighbor will have no one to sue for money – then he’ll have to wait until the guy mows his lawn (to sue for his allergies that the cut grass effects). I am sure the neighbor has a list of “irritations” that his neighbor is “causing him harm” – the world just keeps moving downhill at a rapid pace!

    • teaisstronger

      We have to fight to create a nation we can live in again before the government sends troops to our homes to disarm us. . Socialism makes slaves out of us. Slaves do not have any rights.

    • LibertyTreeBud

      Me too! Those neighbors SUCK!

    • Jo

      I have a neighbor that put the feeder 5 feet from my car, we don’t have garages here, i have birds nesting and tearing up my home and pooping on my car and porch chairs, would I be a busibody if I askd him to move it? Oh and he also pulled out the property line marker when he put it in.

      Well thing is, he is a nasty neighbor, and I’ve done nothing to him, and I did ask him to move it, and I doubt he will, so now I have to invest in an expensive bird deterent gadet that may not work., There should be more laws to protect people from nasty neighbors.

  • Sarah in Outstate MN

    I agree, these are busy bodies doing this. I wonder what sort of illegal activities these busybodies are doing because no one is taking a pictures of them?

  • Lisa Ann Blickem

    We cant feed the wild ducks who do no wrong but we can feed child molestors in prison .. do that make any sense?

    • Ed

      Actually, don’t fed Ducks. They won’t go away and they will harass you if you stop.

      • Louis H.

        How does a duck harass s a person? Quack in a threatening way?

    • Bernie Bouck

      I like ducks. . . . . the last ones were DELICIOUS !

  • Julie

    I agree to your agreement… they should be looking for criminals.
    Not bird feeding hooligans.

    • jnsesq

      You bet! There are those menacing kids’ lemonade stands to be shut down!!!

    • fred

      Bird feeding hooligans are no threat, that’s why they go after them.

    • Edward Boothe

      We are not heading for Communism, we are already there

      • Alex Brown

        I don’t think even the communists in the USSR where this facist or stupid. I think you could feed birds quite safely without being taken to the Gulag.

        • Matt H

          This has absolutely nothing to do with Communism or Socialism. This was a Democratic city passing a municipal law in compliance with the processes of our Democratic republic as outlined in the Constitution. One free citizen tested the boundaries of that law, and other free citizens exercized their rights to try to stop him in a legal and non-violent fashion.

          This was Democracy in action, folks. Anyone who links this to Communism is in dire need of a Civics lesson, preferably before you next vote. You remember voting, as in a Democratic process to determine legislation? To claim that this incident has any releation to Communism or socialism belies a profound and willful ignorance of what those words mean. You are entitled to your own opinions, NOT your own set of facts.

          That having been said, in my opinion this is a stupid and fascist law, and the neighbors ought to be ashamed of themselves for sending a (seemingly) nice man through the justice system and possibly to jail because he wanted to feed the ducks in his own backyard. This is proof positive that good fences do not necessarily make good neighbors.

        • Аляксандр

          you have NO idea what USSR was. And what you have is Americanism!!! You can take to court anyone and for anything.

  • Wil in Minneapolis

    Apparently his neighbors are angry schmucks who desperately need lives.

    And I sincerely hope the city attorney in Bloomington realizes this is a ridiculous case and drops all charges against this man.

    Good god .. I think Bloomington needs a serious attitude adjustment and a light shined on a few gang and drug dealer hang outs so they can direct their attention the ACTUAL law breakers in their midst.

    • Ray Christl

      We’re all lookin’ for freedom…even the drug dealers just supplying a need that people have. Why go and blame them ?

  • Linda Berglund

    Holy Toledo man! The neighbors must have something else against him…

  • KT

    This is completely stupid! The busy bodies should be ashamed of themselves. Get a life and clue

    • Sue

      the tattle tale neighbor is completly pathetic… Can we no longer take care of our own problems without involving the authorities and the law?? What happened to communication?? We no longer look out for each other, we don’t talk to each other — we inform and snitch on our neighbors…. No wonder so many of our neighborhoods have drug problems and such – we’re all strangers….. What happened to “it takes a village”?? I guess it take a village idiot with a video camera…..

      • Mary Sparrowdancer

        It does NOT TAKE A VILLAGE to raise children. It takes a mother and a father. Get the village out of my affairs. The notion of “the village” is Communism.

      • Liz Urban Montreal

        No more community, just nasty individuals. I can understand why this man is nervous ! I would be too. As as for a “village” being communist – no its is a humanist concept and an ancient, prehistoric one.

        I agree with Ed, I have a pond, birds, raccoons, skunks, dogs, cats (the occassional fox)… no rats (rats are in the sewers – well, I do live a dense urban environment. But no the vermin stay away, deep down.

  • drts

    Throw feed on the ground. Attract vermin. Good idea. Good neighbor.

    • Ed

      I fed wild animals and have NEVER seen any rats or mice. Since the video doesn’t show ANY rodents It’s simply the neighbors word. Prove it!

  • Dave

    The fact that a neighbor is the one who turned him in for feeding the ducks is kind of pathetic. How many of these neighbors have turned in the neighborhood speeder who is a threat to the children in the neighborhood, or the drug dealers, or the party house, and many other things that go on in the neighborhood. I guess feeding wild birds are more of an important issue to them in Bloomington. I guess we know where the crooks and pedophiles can go to, because the neighbors are too busy looking for the petty things.

  • Sam I Am

    Leave the guy alone! How ridiculous.Go after the neighbors for frivolous reporting!

  • Mike Gilbertsen

    Mike in Chaska

    My wife and I could hardly believe we had this kind of illegal activity, not out east in the Southamptons, but right here in Minnesota, in little ol’ Bloomington. Thank God and City Attorney Sandra Johnson this law breaker has finally been brought to justice! Sure, it starts as “just feeding the birds”, but pretty soon it’s the ducks and woodpeckers, and then it’s the squirrels and chipmunks! Then were will this lawlessness end, when someone gets killed??! Seriously – I hope someone posts this on You Tube for the world to see – With the goofy judgement of Ms. Johnson, she belongs in Washington D.C.!!

  • quentin

    I assume you all live in apartments and don’t have to worry about rats and ‘coons chewing on your stuff..

    • Jay

      A few years ago, I too fed the birds. I had 10-15 various feeders in my yard and trees.Birds are messy creatures, feed and seed gets strewn all over in the area where feeders are placed. They dont know enough to pick up after themselves! Due to a cutback in hours at work I let the feeders slowly empty so the birds would find another source. I gave my neighbor all my feeders, and they added to them. with another 10. WE DONT have trouble with rats, coons or skunks! IF your a person that doesnt keep your yard free of places that animals can make a nest in, youll attract unwanted animals.. Even a garbage can will attract coons and possums. Ive seen whole flocks of black birds and crows at the feeders next door which are less desirable, but they need to eat too. Some people are just so bored with their lives they have nothing better to do but find petty things to complain about. The tallest privacy fence allowed would be installed in a heartbeat to keep this nosy neighbors view somewhat blocked! Bet they also watch this guy with binnoculars whiile he is inside his home too!

      • VT

        That is absolutely true. We have but one big bird feeder up in a tree and we have grass and weeds growing underneath in a gravel road, because of all the seeds that the messy birds leave behind on the ground. It’s ridiculous to expect a no-mess feeders, plus if the neighbor has a problem with mice, they can get an outdoor cat and yes, clean up the area of your yard and even if the vermin comes to feed on seeds, they will leave again if there is no place to nest and breed safely. There’s also a beautiful thing called pest control, in case things get out of hand for whatever reason.

      • Gayle

        Did you see his yard? He seemed extremely well kept. Although I know what you’re talking about it didn’t seem to apply in this case.

        • Jay

          You bet I saw his great looking yard. My post was directed at the complaining neighbor. That nosy busy-body may be attracting the varmits himself without realizing it.

    • Michael Ledbetter

      Rodents go where the food is. Its obvious that the neighbor has no lack of food, so it is her own fault if rats are in her house. If she would keep a clean home and take preventative measures to deter the unwanted pests (like keeping trashcans off the ground and lidded) then they would stay away. People love to blame others for their own ineptitude.

    • Ed

      Do you? I live out in the country. I don’t have rats or mice. I keep my place clean and trimmed. When the random “coon” shows up I simply shoot it. Why risk the rabies with the neighbors’ small kids. If these people have rodent problems they need to look at their own habits and property first.

    • Don Mitchell

      you don’t know much about wildlife do you dippy do

  • R.Waite

    Life, Liberty and the Pursiut of Happiness, except in Bloomington. Put the police to real work catching druggies, rapists murders, thieves, yes Bloomingto has them. Animals and birds don’t do any harm and are a real joy to watch.

    Buy a bag of bird seed and apoligize to your neighbor. Real “Neighbors” don’t do this kind of thing!!

    • Woodsman

      You want the police to break down doors and arrest people getting high? I don’t get what for…

  • BP

    Really let’s worry about more important things in this world. Than if someone is feeding the birds.

  • Willow

    Clearly these people have nothing better to do with their time. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Redneck Purist

    Note to self: Pick up bird feed, go to Bloomington and throw on ground. Repeat on next day. Repeat on successive following days.

  • Darren

    Where does this gentlemen live? I would like to donate a winters worth of food for the birds and animals.

    And wow, a peeping Tom as a neighbor, videotaping the whole thing.

    I do have a few neighbors with kids and teenagers that are always noisy, up all hours of the night, maybe I can get my neighbors to stop feeding them so they aren’t a problem either.


    This is just wrong don’t these people have anything to do,Like balance the finances or keep crime down. Whoever brought these charges should be FIRED AND REMOVED FROM THE COMMUNITY THEY RESIDE IN.This is the most communist thing i have ever heard of and just makes me sick that feeding the birds is a crime,WHAT A DISGRACE.LET THE GUY FEED THE BIRDS AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS…..STAY OUT OF OTHERS STUFF AND DO YOUR OWN THING…

  • Hank Warren

    Useless bureacrats and their useless rules, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

    • Jay

      Get off your soap box! Feeding the birds isnt a right idiot. Its a desire to help our little creatures.

  • Bob

    Any judge who gives this fellow jail time should be recalled and disbarred. The presecuters should also be disbarred.

  • Ben Dover

    I say we also arrest the store that sold the man the illegal bird food.

  • JohnDD

    Good golly Miss Molly. We are in a country that is going bankrupt, we have politicians who Tweet their private parts and get retirement income for life, and this guy might go to jail because, QUOTE however, Brown admitted to deliberately throwing food on the ground UNQUOTE. Oh, the horror of it, he DELIBERATELY threw bird food on the GROUND. Off with his head, off with his head. The man is a monster.

  • ItsTheLaw

    90 days in the slammer for you buddy. And don’t feed birds on the ground again ever, you reprobate!

  • Kathy

    Control freaks like this poor guys neighbors make me sick.

  • el Presidente Obama

    He must comply with the government authorities or he will be sent to the gulag.

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