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

We have all visited a local Akron-area pond and thrown bread to the ducks and geese. Most people think they are helping but  they actually not helping these wild animals. Most people think that handfeeding wild animals is a harmless and fun way to interact with wildlife. Unfortunately this is not true, feeding Ohio wildlife human food can cause unforeseen harm to them. It can even lead to potentially dangerous learned behaviors.

Wildlife in NE Ohio

Why we should not feed Ohio wildlife!

  1. Ohio wildlife can carry diseases and parasites that can be transmissible to people or your household pets. Diseases like rabies can cause very serious health problems if you or your pet are bitten by wildlife stricken with this disease.
  2. Ohio wildlife actually have complex nutritional needs that don’t come from human food. If wildlife consumes human foods, they can have nutritional deficiencies that can lead to deformity. If you have ever seen a goose or duck with a wing that looks crooked or drooped, they have “angel wing” which is a result of an unhealthy diets. This could be from human foods like bread and popcorn.
  3. Hand feeding Ohio wildlife (such as ducks, geese, raccoons, deer, etc.) teaches them to not fear people and expect food from them. If they don’t get it, they can become aggressive. Next, the adult Ohio wildlife will teach this behavior to their offspring. Once humans stop feeding the offspring, they don’t know how to be wild and find sustenance on their own.
  4. Feeding Ohio wildlife can attract a lot of animals in one location that can then causes diseases and parasites to spread more quickly, as well as concentrates waste material.

Although feeding Ohio wildlife is not good for them, this is not the same as having a bird feeder in your backyard. This is the exception to the rule. Keep your backyard bird feeders stocked with nutritious seed, nuts, berries, or sugar water. Learn more about responsible backyard bird feeding at

Learn more about what you should and should not do to help keep wild animals happy and healthy at


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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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