So now you can be fined for feeding the birds in your own backyard?

A Bethlehem Township town ordinance, which was designed to deter squirrels and other rodents from habitating, has some people scratching their heads and asking, "What's next?"

One retired couple affected by the ordinance, who have been feeding the birds for 25 years at their home, is facing a $1,000-a-day fine instituted under the town code. To stay in compliance, they must provide a squirrel-proof top and catch basin affixed at the bottom of all bird feeders.

There was also a complaint that backyard bird feeders were attracting deer. One homeowner who was visited by a code enforcement officer in December doesn't buy the deer argument, explaining the animals would be there even if there were no bird feeders.

A Northampton County official said the commissioners board will get together to review the ordinance, which has grabbed national attention.

Bethlehem Township isn't the only community with a strange law on its books.

In Bucks County, Bensalem's Bingo laws rank among the bizarre. First, it's impossible for a convicted felon to operate a Bingo game.

Also, those who do have a license to operate bingo can't advertise the prizes being offered. The full text of the law says: "It shall be unlawful for any club or person to advertise the prizes or their dollar value to be awarded in games of chance, provided that prizes may be identified on raffle tickets."

To our east, a strangely worded law in Blairstown, N.J. states that it's illegal to plant trees "that obscure the air." The ordinance says that streets of the township must be used for the purpose of public travel only. Shade trees "shall be planted so as not to obscure light and air and shall not be so close as to interfere with the lawful use of such streets, highways and alleys."

Whether you're trying to feed birds in Bethlehem Township, run a Bingo game in Bensalem, or planting a shade tree in Blairstown, N.J., you better first make sure you know the letter of the law.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com [1]