Thinking about sharing your lunch with wild animals? Think again: you may be causing more harm than you think! If you feed wildlife on NCC lands, it can create serious problems for both animals and humans.

Feeding wild animals can create the following problems:

  • Changes in the animals’ natural behaviour
  • Conflicts with humans
  • Imbalanced ecosystem
  • Health issues

Changes in the animals’ natural behaviour

Feeding wild animals can make them lose their ability to forage and hunt. By relying on human-provided food, certain species may lose the essential and necessary skills they need to survive in the wild.

Conflicts with humans

Feeding wildlife habituates animals to human presence. This can make wild animals approach humans more often and become bolder when seeking food. This poses risks to both humans and animals.

Sometimes, this can make the animals aggressive, and they must unfortunately be relocated. Follow the link below to see how the NCC dealt with some intimidating turkeys!

Aggressive wild turkeys force NCC to close Mud Lake walking trails | Ottawa Citizen

Imbalanced ecosystem

Feeding wildlife may cause the populations of some species to grow beyond the ecosystem’s capacity. This results in an imbalance that can be harmful for many species.

For example:

  1. People feed raccoons or leave their food unattended at campground sites, which provides the raccoons with an additional food supply.
  2. After some time, more raccoons show up in the area.
  3. A greater number of raccoons come to the site and then overfeed on the ecosystem’s food supplies in the area (e.g. freshwater mussels, crayfish, turtle egg depredation).
  4. This results in less food for other species and the habitat becoming increasingly degraded.

Health issues

Feeding human food to wild animals is harmful because it can make the animals sick, cause digestive issues, and even kill them. Pregnant animals who eat human food may give birth to unhealthy offspring, who may suffer from malnourishment or die early.

In addition, wild animals can transmit diseases to humans, including rabies.

To protect humans and wildlife, it’s best to appreciate wild animals from a distance and refrain from feeding them on NCC lands.

Seven principles of outdoor ethics

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