Feeding Wildlife: What You Should Know

South Florida is a unique place where people from all over prosper, as do the many species of animals who called it home first. However, as the population of humans continues to grow, we find ourselves living amongst our wild neighbors and wanting to find a way to help them since they are so curious and interested in the things we do. Wildlife, however, were designed to live in these natural environments and have developed highly specialized ways to hunt, forage, confine to their social standards and find refuge when they need to rest or find a safe place to hide.

When people intervene with these natural instincts, wildlife finds itself in danger. Wild animals accustomed to being fed will not develop essential survival skills and are poorly equipped to find necessities like food, water, and shelter. The food that humans often feed to wild animals, like bread, is nutritionally deficient and can cause severe health issues for animals including, physical deformities. Nature, however, contains a perfect assortment of nutrient-rich foods for wild animals. Without the presence of handouts, an animal will not starve but instead thrive on a natural diet like they are meant to. Feeding wildlife causes animals to be fearless of humans and approach people for food; this is sometimes mistaken for aggressive or rabid behavior and puts wildlife at risk of being killed in the name of public safety. Wild animals accustomed to being fed cluster unnaturally and become vulnerable to highly contagious and often deadly diseases. Diseases like distemper, rabies, botulism, salmonella, trichomoniasis, and pox can quickly wipe out hundreds of animals. The best thing you can do to ensure wild animals’ health and well-being is to avoid feeding them and observe and appreciate them from a safe distance. If you enjoy watching wildlife, there are many local parks where you can observe hundreds of wildlife species in their natural habitats. If you are looking for another way to get closer to wildlife, please consider volunteering with us. Please share this information with your family, friends, and neighbors. Thank you for helping to keep our local wildlife safe and wild!

 

Photo of Blue Jay by Jillian Cain