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Feeding Wildlife

Feeding wild animals, no matter how cute or hungry they seem, can often result in more harm than good.

When animals learn that humans provide a cheap and easy food source, they often lose their natural fear of humans which usually leads to conflicts, nuisance behavior, and risks to human safety.

"People" food is not formulated for animal consumption. Foods manufactured for humans are rarely nutritionally adequate for animals and may cause serious health problems. This is particularly the case when animals gather to feed continually on human handouts such as bread, french fries, and popcorn.

Throwing food waste, such as apple cores, from your car draws animals to roadways, resulting in accidents and dead or injured wildlife.

Animals who become dependent on human food sources may gather in abnormally large numbers, thereby aiding the spread of disease. Unnatural crowding and competition may result and increase the incidence of fighting and injury among animals.

Does this mean backyard bird and squirrel feeding is wrong? Not necessarily. While feeding birds and squirrels in your backyard is generally harmless to animals, some conditions may warrant curtailing the provision of such food sources. For example, during the warmer months, when natural food sources are more readily available, it's usually best to reduce the amount of feed you put out each day or suspend feeding altogether.



Authored by John Ame, science writer