Keep Wildlife Wild: Don’t Feed the Animals

Keep Wildlife Wild: Don’t Feed the Animals

Spotted Deer in field

We understand the temptation: You are at a park full of exciting wildlife, and feeding the animals seems like a harmless way to interact AND get an Instragrammable moment. However, doing so can be dangerous for the animals and you.

The Prince William County Department of Parks & Recreation reminds us that feeding wildlife can be dangerous for both animals and humans. Here are some reasons why you should not feed wildlife:

Food conditioning: Animals can become dependent on humans for food and may not be able to survive on their own. This can lead to aggression, which can result in serious consequences for the animal, such as getting sick, starving, or even being killed.

Loss of fear: Animals can lose their natural fear of people and become accustomed to seeing humans in busy areas. This can put people at risk, especially children, and can lead to threatening behavior such as biting, kicking, charging, or attacking.

Disease: Animals can carry diseases, such as hantavirus and rabies, which can be transmitted to humans through interaction. Human food is also not made for animals and can cause disease, mouth and throat injuries, or even death.

Unnatural attraction: Feeding wildlife can draw them closer to homes and residential areas, which can lead to mortality. For example, birds may strike windows or be involved in vehicle collisions.

Environmental quality: Congregating animals can cause unnaturally high amounts of droppings in one place, which can affect the environmental quality of an area. For example, excessive nutrients from droppings in ponds or lakes can lead to water quality issues, such as algal blooms or unsafe bacteria levels.

What Can You Do?

Be a smart wildlife watcher and help keep wildlife wild.

  • Never feed the wildlife.
  • Store your food and stash your trash. Practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • Give the animals room.