By angelamontana

Posted: June 21, 2024

Humans are always trying to help wildlife when we shouldn’t. Feeding wild critters is never a good idea. Biology and Wildlife Management research supports the NO FEED WILDLIFE plan.

Some folks still need to selfishly feed critters for selfish reasons. They probably failed Biology class. Not only do they feed when they shouldn’t, they feed the wrong food. I was taught that” a fed deer is a dead deer.” This is true with most wild critters.

As kids we visited the Beaver Creek Trout Hatchery, in Maryland, back in the day, we would buy a loaf of white bread for the trout. We tore it into pieces and threw it into the troughs. At the hatchery outflow, a small channel was full of BIG hatchery escapees. They were especially fun to feed. There were always a flock of Mallards on hand to pick up anything the trout missed. 

Feeding ducks and pigeons was always an acceptable way to interact with wildlife. I also remember hunters dumping truckloads of cracked corn, apples, beets, and whatever else would help the wildlife make it over the winter. When I became a Biologist, I also remember how wildlife starved to death with a full belly of corn, wheat, or bread. Hatchery trout would literally explode from getting clogged up with the wrong foods. 

When wildlife becomes reliant on being fed by people, they forget how to find food on their own. When the weather is extremely cold, they cross roads, and open spaces that wild critters would never expose themselves to. The food that is being fed to them also lacks the nutrition to survive in nature. Sadly, people that feed the wild critters are killing them so that they can have a front row seat at viewing them.

Pigeons and other birds/fowl contain tons of harmful bacteria in their feces. A Canadian goose craps out 1 ½ lbs. of waste a day. Feeding them means more waste. The added nutrients impact the water quality and environment. Toxic algae blooms are becoming too common during the Summer. Other pets encounter contaminated waste and become sick as well. 

Bird feeders are a common drive by for wildlife. Sadly, the patrons become reliant on this free lunch. If the feed becomes wet, it becomes moldy and will make birds sick. If the bird food provider forgets to put out feed, the birds can starve, especially in harsh weather. Bears and other unwanted patrons will also show up. 

Free handouts are not without cost. Wild critters need to fear humans and not see them as food providers. Once wildlife becomes reliant on the handouts, they lose health and the ability to survive on their own, just so people can feel good and are entertained. The Duck Pond at MSU is full of fat bread fed ducks that should be living in the wild. 

Leave wildlife to be wild!

Montana Grant

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