LYNN (CBS) – A woman known as “the bird lady” is facing criminal charges for feeding the ducks, geese, and pigeons at a local pond.

Eighty-year-old Claire Butcher has been feeding the birds for 45 years at Flax, Sluice, and Goldfish Ponds in Lynn.

But the controversy really began to simmer back in 2009.

At the time, Lynn officials were fed up with Butcher. They had been complaining for several years, asking her to stop bringing shopping carts full of food to the pond.

The city contended Butcher’s feeding the birds was causing a problem with animal feces as well as attracting rats.

“You can see how filthy it is over there and how many animals reside there. It’s because of the constant feeding by Ms. Butcher,” Lynn’s Attorney Vincent Phelan told WBZ-TV on Wednesday.

WBZ-TV’s Ken Macleod reports

The city sought an injunction and eventually made a deal with Claire. She agreed not to feed the ducks anymore.

But officials say she repeatedly ignored the deal, which included a No Trespass Order. She was fined several times, but never paid up.

Her reasoning, she felt, was simple.

“The animals in the park do not belong to the city of Lynn — they belong to God,” Butcher said.

So, the city upped the ante and launched a criminal complaint. And on Wednesday, a court ruled that Butcher had violated the No Trespass Order and a city ban on feeding wildlife and should face criminal charges.

Butcher claims she’s just feeding a few domesticated ducks, and is disgusted by the city’s response to her actions.

“I guess Lynn has nothing else to do besides chase an 80 year old woman down the street for feeding ducks,” Butcher said.

The city says they realize how the situation looks, but their major concern is public safety.

“The only thing we wish to do is have her stop,” Phelan said. “It is a clear public safety issue at this time and the city has had enough.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

Neighbors have also had it with Butcher.

“She’s flaunting this and the neighbors are fed up with it,” said Allissa Kummel, who lives near Flax Pond. “She’s a nice old woman and that’s her joy in life. But it’s a big problem for the city, as well… It’s piles and piles of bird poop.”

After the court hearing, when asked if she was going to stop feeding the birds, she responded, “I don’t know. I’m going to think about it.”

Butcher could spend up to 30 days in prison if it’s found that she violated the ordinances.

WBZ-TV’s Ken Macleod contributed to this report.

Comments (358)
  1. Shawna Howard says:

    Can’t wait to see if the park magically becomes cleaner once they put this 80 year old women in jail…She probably only has that to look forward to doing everyday–now that that’s out of the way..let’s lock up some REAL criminals!

  2. Jay says:

    So it’s OK for derelicts to foul up parks and for gangs to take control of them which most cities ignore for fear that the ACLU will go after them for civil rights violations. Just goes to show how out of balance our civilization has become.

    1. Frank says:

      True that. Look at all the Occupy criminals costing the tax payers millions and this town wants to put an 80 year old lady in jail for feeding ducks. Unbelievable how far Amerika has come. I guess this is the hope and change Obummer was talking about.

  3. Corby says:

    Here’s a punishment: Have the ducks “bite the hand that feeds them” then make the elderly woman eat all the ducks she’s fed. Come on… is this a joke! Why are Lynn officials wasting vital resources on tormenting a senior citizen while real criminals walk their streets. It must not be an election year. If it is… they lost the senior’s vote. Leave the woman alone!

  4. Al says:

    i think the city of Lynn shouldn’t let her feed the ducks its unhealthy and not natural. i also think Lynn shoul give Ms. Butcher a helpful job like help feed animals in a zoo.

  5. says:

    LOL. YOu’re worried about some bird poop yet you coddle the OWS crowd?????

  6. GD says:

    Wild animals do not need to be fed. Bird crap is a health hazard. Put this idiot in jail and force feed her stale bread. Dumb old hag.

  7. Ryan Mouk says:

    A special message to the joke of a person prosecuting this case. Your a moron, plain and simple. You are a waste on that county and have no right to be in any position of power of citizens. She fed the birds, she didn’t molest children at the local airport or make some grandmother strip to search for bombs. She did not threaten anyone or brandish a gun with the intent to do harm, she feed a bird. You are nothing but a moronic waste of life and I hope that your days are filled with nothing but misery and pain. I spit on you.

  8. caligula says:

    Just turn her into Soylent Green and be done with it.

  9. RS says:

    Release the woman, shoot the ducks if they are health menace.

  10. Bob says:

    Maybe she shoudl run for Mayor or city council

  11. speasy says:

    How’s about limiting her to one bag of bread once a week as opposed to her shopping cart loads and trying to ban her altogether?

  12. Maggie says:

    People need to give and receive love, especially the elderly and her ducks provide this for her. How about she can feed her ducks as long as she cleans up after them?

  13. Ryan says:

    She’s 80 years old. I think she secretly wants to be sent to prison. Check off the “Get arrested and sent to jail” item on her bucket list.

  14. Anon says:

    Many of the same people condemning this were no doubt cheering the UC Davis police pepper spraying some college kids just sitting on a sidewalk.

  15. Lisa says:

    She is only eighty years old. I would be glad to help clean up the mess. Why not feed the birds they do not waste food for your information they eat it all up. Go and pick on a rapist or people shooting each other leave her alone. She loves wild life. The creatures do belong to God.

  16. Cameron McCarter says:

    Obviously this economy has gotten bad enough to where they have to charge people for the little things.. seriously.. charging her for feeding ducks.. that has to be the most idiotic thing i’ve ever would be easier to just take a hose and spray down the bird poop rather than charging this lady for FEEDING THE DUCKS!!! geez i’ve lost all hope in this country

  17. Ryan Morales says:

    Do you believe that Syria spying on dissidents?

  18. Tamara says:

    This is so stupid…..a typical city council action…let forget about the murderers & rapists, and put all our time into getting this little lady in jail for feeding the ducks!? Get you priorities right you idiots. Leave this little lady alone, because I am sure that is you don’t you will be VERY surprised with the amount of people who will stand behind her in support..

  19. Bill and Diana says:

    Given the fact, that she has been feeding these birds for so many years. The court should grandfather her rights to continue to feed the birds as long as she lives. The property owners should of known the birds were there prior to them purchasing. Kinda like someone building a house next to or close to a farm, you can,t expect the animals to not smell. Or if you buy a house by an airport you need to know your going to hear the planes. Those people that are now making the complaints , should sell there new homes to people who enjoy that kind of thing. I would suggest they move to California with the rest of the people that complain about the small stuff that takes our Liberities away.

  20. terry wagar says:

    Feed the ducks and shoot the fascist cops that try to interfere with people exorcizing their liberty’s in a public park of which belongs to everyone one not just the nearby neighbors!

    What next? are they going to use a No Trespass Order for public sidewalks? then by law you would be breaking their law simply by walking out the damn door!

    We didn’t fight world war 2 for nothing you know we were fighting fascist’s that wrote laws to allow them to terrorize innocent people and to justify their murder!

    Just because some douche bags write something down and label it law does not necessarily make it a valid law!

  21. Terry Wagar says:

    Sorry Lynn officials I cannot hear your No Trespass Order, your fascism is too loud!

  22. Lauren says:

    First of all, those ducks are domesticated and were probably abandoned there by some uncaring individuals. If people do not feed those ducks in the winter, they will most likely die. It’s not right that they are not being fed as they CANNOT fly away as wild ducks are able to. They are STUCK there, dependent on people to feed them. This woman should be given an award for sustaining their lives. This town is pathetic. THey are GOD’s creatures and deserve to live. Why doesn’t the town remove the domesticated birds and find a farm for them to live on if it bothers them so much. They should be ashamed of themselves trying to throw an old lady in jail for feeding God’s creatures.

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