80-year-old woman willing to go to jail for feeding ducks

Claire Butcher says winter is hard on the fowl at a pond near her house -- and they are God's creatures.

An 80-year-old old Massachusetts woman is willing to go to jail rather than quit feeding the ducks at a pond near her house. She says she worries about the health of her feathered friends — particularly during the winter when they have little to eat.

“Claire Butcher says she’s only trying to make sure that a group of domestic ducks that made Flax Pond their home have enough to eat as the cold weather approaches,” writes Jeff McMenemyLynn Daily Item newspaper.

She says that’s why she recently resumed feeding the birds — in violation of a city ordinance and a No Trespass Order she agreed to in 2009, according to City Attorney Vincent Phelan.

Police told ABC News that they intend to charge her with trespassing and violation of a city ordinance after a woman saw her feeding the birds recently, according to court documents.

“Here I am, an 80-year-old woman and they’re treating me like a criminal,” she told McMenemy while she feeding the ducks as well as some local geese at the pond.

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She acknowledges being cited multiple times for violating the city’s ordinance, which forbids people from feeding wild geese, ducks or “other wildlife that may congregate” on or about the local Sluice Pond, Flax Pond or Goldfish Pond.

The penalty is $100 per offense.

Asked if she’s worried that she will be fined, Butcher laughed and said,

“No, I’m not worried about being fined, because I never paid my fines before.”

“The animals in the park do not belong to the city of Lynn — they belong to God,” Claire told McMenemy.

Phelan said city officials have cited her about a dozen times for violating the city ordinance, but Butcher continues anyway.
“We’re not picking on this woman,” Phelan told reporters. “We just want her to comply with the ordinance.”

“City officials said they have tried working with her,” reports McMenemy, “including dismissing previous fines levied against her after she agreed to comply with a No Trespass Order issued in 2009. The order, signed by Jay Fink, the city’s Department of Public Works Commissioner, and Mary Ann O’Connor, the city’s Director of Health, states that Butcher is prohibited from trespassing in Lynn city parks, and includes a list of all the parks in the city.”

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Rob Kerby
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