Thursday, January 17. 2019
Many people enjoy feeding wildlife and do so with the best intentions. It brings wildlife near their homes for close viewing and they believe that by feeding the animals they are helping them survive. While seeing wildlife up close is enjoyable, providing them with food almost always leads to problems for the animals and humans alike.
Why not feed wildlife?
- Wildlife when fed by humans commonly lose their fear of people. Feeding that is meant for wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels and birds will often attract undesirable species. In fact, most coyote attacks on domestic pets occurred in areas where humans had established “feeding stations” for other species. The coyotes migrated into the immediate areas to live off the available food and began to lose their fear of humans. Roaming in our communities with confidence, the coyotes learned that our pets are an easy food source. If not for the attraction of food, coyotes would have no reason to live in our communities.
- Conflicts between humans and wildlife will increase. Larger numbers of animals will move into the immediate area where food is made available. Wanting to stay in close proximity to food they look to establish den sites nearby. Furthermore, the resident animals will give birth to more young, boosting animal populations in the vicinity. With the increase in numbers more damage to buildings stemming from wildlife intrusions are to be expected. Although not the intended recipient, mice and rats will benefit from the fallen seed of bird feeders and from there, find ways to move into the nearby homes.
- Wild animals become dependent on human-provided food sources. Young wild animals are not taught foraging skills by their mothers when fed by humans. If the supplied food source disappears their limited ability to find natural food will reduce their chance of survival.
- Wildlife diseases are readily transmitted at feeding stations. By bringing large groups of animals together to feed, diseases can be spread more readily and can reach epidemic proportions wiping out large numbers of animals. Since certain wildlife diseases such as raccoon roundworm are transferable to humans attracting defecating raccoons close to your home can result in serious health consequences.
By Brad Gates, B.Sc.
Brad Gates is the owner and president of AAA Gates Wildlife Control. He has over 35 years experience in the humane wildlife removal and prevention industry.