Born Wild, Stay Wild in NE Ohio: Please Do Not Feed our Wildlife

While it’s fun to visit an Akron-area pond and throw bread to the ducks and geese, people who do so are actually not helping these wild animals. We often think that handfeeding wild animals is a harmless way to interact with wildlife, but unfortunately providing human food can cause unforeseen harm and lead to potentially dangerous learned behaviors.

Wildlife in NE Ohio

Why should we keep wildlife wild by not feeding them?

  1. Wild animals can carry diseases and parasites, some of which are transmissible to people or pets. Some diseases, like rabies, can cause serious health problems if someone were to be bitten by a sick animal.
  2. Wild animals have complex nutritional needs. Nutritional deficiencies can leave an animal deformed for life. Have you ever seen a goose or duck with a wing that looks crooked or drooped? This is called “angel wing” which is a condition attributed to unhealthy diets. A leading cause is consumption of too much bread and popcorn and not enough good, solid nutritious food.
  3. Hand feeding wildlife (such as ducks, geese, raccoons, deer, etc.) can cause them to lose their fear of people, and even expect food from humans and become aggressive. Adult wildlife also teach their behavior to their offspring, and young animals may not develop the basic skills to find sustenance on their own.
  4. Feeding wildlife can also unnaturally gather them to one location, which then causes diseases and parasites to spread more quickly, as well as concentrates waste material.

Attracting birds to commercial feeding stations like a simple bird feeder in a backyard can be an exception to this line of thinking. Maintaining a proper feeding system filled with nutritious seed, nuts, berries, or sugar water can be a fun and entertaining way to enjoy birds visiting your yard. Learn more about responsible backyard bird feeding at wildohio.gov; this section also includes offering natural food and habitat options which can be a more cost effective way to go while offering very valuable components for the wildlife that visits your yard.

Learn more about what you should and should not do to help keep wild animals happy and healthy at wildohio.gov/staywild

 

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Jamey Emmert
Jamey Emmert, a native of southeast Ohio, serves as a Wildlife Communications Specialist for the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s NE Ohio district and is stationed in Akron. After graduating from Hocking College with an Associate Degree in Wildlife Management, she began her career with the Division in 2003. Jamey’s responsibilities vary greatly and include serving as a liaison between the Division and the news media, conducting informational workshops and programs connecting Ohioans with the outdoors, creating educational exhibits at various events, and partnering with educators who want to provide educational experiences to others regarding conservation of our natural resources. In her spare time, Jamey enjoys traveling, deer hunting, fishing for anything with gills, searching fields for ancient artifacts, gardening, and birding all in between coats of pink nail polish. You’ll likely find her outdoors and at any given moment next to her husband, Greg, and canine companion, Sophie.
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