There are numerous reasons why feeding wildlife is not a good idea. It may appear to be a nice concept, but it is the polar opposite.
As far as possible, wildlife should be left alone, which includes letting them alone to forage. Attempting to feed them yourself would be a disservice to them. As a result, they are unable to rely on their instincts to function.
Here are some of the most compelling reasons to never feed wildlife.
Although we may believe that feeding animals helps them, they are ideally adapted to look after themselves and meet their own requirements. When we try to help, we frequently end up interfering with nature’s inherent balance.
It is much better to do your research and donate to conservation programs than feed the deer in your backyard.
It Can Cause Human Dependence
The biggest reason to avoid handing out food to the wildlife in your area is that you don’t want them to become dependent.
With natural ecosystems being constantly destroyed, it is essential to keep wild animals wild. They need to stay independent and live their lives as normally as possible.
It only takes a few times for any animals to catch on to the benefit of being nearby. It can throw off their foraging instincts, and they can quickly become reliant on your handouts. Human dependence on wildlife is never a good thing and should always be avoided.
It Takes Away Their Natural Fear
Wildlife may naturally be very fearful and careful, but food can quickly begin to tear down that instinct. As magical as it may feel to be able to stand close to a deer or feed a squirrel out of your hand, it is putting that animal in grave danger.
Not everyone will appreciate these animals, and the next person they might walk up to could be a hunter. You do not want to train wildlife to trust humans naturally. That will put them in harm’s way and may even prove fatal.
That instinctual fear keeps them from running up to people and hanging out in people’s backyards. That fear is important as it keeps a certain level of security for animals and humans. You wouldn’t want a black bear wandering up to your door because your neighbor fed it, would you? That kind of citation is just asking for trouble.
It Can Cause Unwanted House Guests
Depending on the animals that you are feeding, it can quickly turn into a whole different kind of situation. Smaller animals, such as raccoons, squirrels, and nutria, might like you so much that they decide to move in.
These kinds of critters already tend to be attracted to human houses. So you do not want to invite them. If you start to attract certain wildlife around your home, you might find that they want to take over.
This can even apply to larger animals like bears. Bears are well known for getting too comfortable around people, to the point of crawling into cars and going dumpster diving. You do not want to create the kind of situation that encourages this behavior. It isn’t good for humans, and it certainly isn’t good for wildlife.
It Can Lead to Human-Animal Interactions
This is a very common issue that people face when feeding wildlife. What might have started as a simple helping hand could easily become something less pleasant. By feeding wild animals, you invite them to be close by and within your space. By doing that, you are guaranteed to have a few run-ins with them at some point.
Any wild animal can be dangerous, and by interacting so closely with them, you are just asking for something to happen. You might anger a mother deer or run into a more aggressive animal that is scavenging in your yard.
No matter what kind of human-animal interaction it is, it is never a good thing. These animals need to stay wild and follow their survival instinct.
It Could Disturb Their Natural Diet
Animals all have their specific kind of diet that is programmed into them. However, if they are offered free food, most animals will get a little experimental. This isn’t a good thing because animals are designed to eat a certain way. For them, food is fuel and nothing else.
One of the worst things you could do is feed wildlife people food. Not only is this incredibly unhealthy for them, but it can also take away their desire to forage for their normal dietary foods. Like humans, most animals would gladly choose the more unhealthy option over the healthier option. You offer a squirrel a peanut or a chip, and they might choose the chip!
Even if you do buy better food designed for wildlife, it is still going to be slightly different. It can encourage obesity as the animals are not burning the calories to find food.
As important as it is for wildlife to be well-fed and healthy, their survival often relies on being lean and able to get away when there is danger. If you feed wild animals for an extended period, they might become so accustomed to your food that they start to forage less and only want to eat the food that you give them.
This article by Abigail Jane was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 17 April 2022. Lead Image Source : Jillian Cain Photography/Shutterstock.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.