Don’t feed the wildlife on the River Welland in Market Harborough – or you could be fined £75.
New signs have been put up by the council discouraging people from leaving food along the riverbank in a bid to prevent the spread of vermin.
Town centre businesses, including Greggs the bakery, contacted Harborough District Council raising concerns about an increase in the numbers of pigeons and rats in St Mary’s Place and along the popular walkway by the River Welland known as the Millennium Mile.
Despite using informal methods over the past few months, the council has now installed signs which carry a warning of a £75 fine if people continue to feed wildlife.
Council deputy leader Cllr Phil King said: “There is an ongoing issue with pigeons, and potentially rats, in the area which has been made significantly worse by people leaving food for the ducks.
“Our enforcement officers have previously asked people to stop in a polite, informal manner, but the issue continues.”
The council said it wanted to avoid an increased use of rat-bait poison which can increase the risk to other wildlife in and around the river.
Cllr King said: “People are coming along with carrier bags of birdseed and dumping it on the side of the river.
“It’s attracting rats, and upsetting the balance of nature on this river.
“We’ve tried ‘nicely, nicely’ and it hasn’t worked.
“There is a lot of local pride in the Millennium Mile so I hope people will take notice of these signs and challenge those disregarding them.”
The council said the situation will continue to be monitored following the installation of the new signs.
However, not everyone has reacted positively to the new measures.
On social media website Twitter, Cllr King got into a debate with a man called Ian [@manandphone] on Friday.
Ian tweeted: “As long as it doesn’t become illegal to feed the birds.
“That’d be outrageous... Only under a Tory government!”
Cllr King responded, tweeting: “This is non-political, it is about public health risk.”