It is frequently stated that Wisconsin has a law that governs almost everything. Well, the
reading of a recently released court of appeals case, simply reinforces that philosophy.
in City OF West Allis V. William H. MCCarver
The city cited Mr. MCCarver under is newly revised municipal ordinance § 7.14(3),
“Elimination of Rat Feeding Places.” The complaint alleged that McCarver had violated the
ordinance by placing peanuts for squirrels and birds on his front lawn, sidewalk, and the public
roadway, in areas accessible to rats, and by failing to remove the accumulated food waste. The
ordinance in place at the time of McCarver’s citation stated:
“No person, firm or corporation shall place or allow to accumulate, any materials that may serve
as food for rats in a site accessible to rats. Any waste materials that may serve as food for rats
shall be stored in rat-proof containers. Food for birds shall be placed on raised platforms or such
feed shall be placed where it is not accessible to rats. Premises upon which food is provided for
birds shall be cleaned at least once during each twenty-four (24) hour period to remove food
material which has fallen to the ground. It shall be the responsibility of the occupant or the
owner of record to see that the premises are kept free of material which could provide food for
This case actually proceeded to jury trial, where a neighbor produced photos and video’s of Mr.
McCarver throwing food waste (peanuts and seeds) into this front lawn to feed the birds and
consequently the squirrels. On June 11, 2013, the jury determined that McCarver violated West
Allis revised municipal code § 7.14(3) on nine separate occasions. On September 10, 2013, the
circuit court ordered McCarver to pay a fine of $10.00 for each of the nine counts, plus court
costs. This appeal then followed.
I share this as an example of not only WI love for laws that govern almost anything, but also our
ability to litigate even the smallest of matters to the largest extent. Principals are expensive. At
some point common sense should play a role.