In my experience as a wildlife rescue volunteer, I’ve had numerous chats with people who feed the local critters. They toss out scratch for wild turkeys, fruit and veggies for the deer, kitchen scraps for the raccoons. They hang hummingbird feeders, fill bird feeders with seed, and set out peanuts for the squirrels and scrub jays. I’ve even got one neighbor who fed sea gulls on his deck (not a deck I’d care to walk on with bare feet!)
Without exception, these folks feel they’re doing a good deed. The problem is, with very few exceptions, they’re not.
To quote an article from the USFWS website, (www.fws.gov), “In general, it’s bad practice to feed wild animals. That’s because teaching wild animals to associate humans with handouts can lead to problems. Think: “bad” bears at campsites; alligators stalking people. And the danger is not just to humans. Supplemental feeding can cause digestive problems for some animals (deer and rabbits, for example) and alter normal behaviors.”
When you feed wild animals, they begin to associate humans with food. That’s clearly a bad idea when it comes to potentially dangerous wildlife like bears, alligators (yes, people feed gators), and coyotes. But what about the “cute” animals? Skunks and raccoons are adorable, and quickly become so habituated to human feedings they almost seem tame. But they’re not, and you don’t want to find that out the hard way.
“But c’mon, Kerry,” I hear you say, “what’s the harm in feeding the birds?”
Well, imaginary person, check out this interesting article that addresses the ramifications of bird feeding: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/features/to-feed-or-not-to-feed-wild-birds.html
In general, the rule is simple: Don’t feed the animals.