Putting Food Out for Wildlife

Do not put out food for wild animals, except for birds and squirrels. Deliberate feeding of wildlife puts you, your pets, your neighbors, and even the wildlife at risk.  Observing wildlife is a wonderful way to interact with nature; however, the experience can turn unpleasant or dangerous when well-meaning people feed wildlife. Intentional feeding can make wildlife unnaturally bold, and will lead to conflicts. It is necessary for wild animals to remain fearful of humans.  

Does More Harm than Good

Feeding of wildlife may seem like a positive way to interact, but what may start out as three cute, juvenile opossums can turn into twenty raccoons, ten opossums, and five feral cats.  This creates an unnatural situation in which wildlife become less fearful of humans, become habituated to a free handout, can spread disease to each other as they eat in close contact, can attract other predatory wildlife to the feeding location, and can cause conflict with neighbors who do not appreciate the nightly wildlife buffet line going through their yards. Feeding wild animals does much more harm than good.

Illegal in Some Cities

Feeding wildlife is not only highly discouraged, but is also illegal in some cities.  Wildlife can become too comfortable and lose fear of humans if food is intentionally provided for them.  Wildlife that lose their fear of humans can become dangerous to the feeder, as well as to the surrounding residents.  This can result in conflict that ends with the wildlife being trapped and euthanized because of the perceived threat to the community once they lose their fear of humans or begin to feed in large numbers.  In addition, feeding wildlife encourages them to reproduce in greater numbers than the habitat can support.  

Do Not Intentionally Feed Wild Animals

For all these reasons, and for the public and wildlife’s long-term safety, no one should intentionally feed wild animals.  If you have been feeding and need to stop, it’s best to gradually reduce the amount of feeding over a period of a month.  In this way, wildlife that have become accustomed to an unlimited, easy food source can gradually disperse and locate naturally occurring food sources.