View Full Version : State of Colorado, "Don't Feed Wildlife!"

05-09-2005, 15:55

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is asking the public to do its part to help reduce potentially dangerous wildlife encounters and the message is simple: Don’t feed the wildlife!

“There is mounting evidence that artificial feeding of wildlife contributes directly to the problems between wildlife and people,” said Albert Romero, the district wildlife officer for western El Paso County. “We know that artificial feeding concentrates animals and accelerates the spread of diseases. It also causes wild animals to loose their fear of humans, which increases the chance of someone getting bitten or injured.”

“Many people who feed wildlife do not realize that it does more harm than good,” said Romero. “In the case of bears, foxes and coyotes, feeding encourages animals to associate humans with food -- an association that often results in the animal’s destruction.”

Not only is feeding unhealthy for wild animals, it is also illegal. Colorado law prohibits feeding deer, elk, moose, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bears, foxes or coyotes. Wildlife officers can ticket people for feeding wildlife by leaving out garbage, pet food, grain, meat scraps or other food sources known to attract bears and other animals.

“We view this as primarily a human safety issue,” said Randy Hancock, a wildlife officer from Buena Vista. “Nation-wide statistics clearly show that most of the incidents where foxes or coyotes injured people occurred after the animals had been regularly fed by someone.

“We understand that people often feed wildlife because they think they’re helping the animals, but the results are often bad for both humans and the animals,” said Hancock.

In the case of deer, elk or other big game species, the animals congregate around an artificial food source, which increases physical contact as they jostle for food. In the wild, deer or elk might feed from the same plants, but direct nose-to-nose contact is very minimal. At an artificial food pile, however, direct nose-to-nose contact can quickly spread diseases like brucellosis, tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease.

Feeding wildlife is not just a rural problem. Coyotes and foxes can turn up in just about any Colorado setting, from mountain hamlets and ski resorts to urban parks and suburban neighborhoods. It is not unusual to get reports of coyotes and foxes appearing in suburban neighborhoods. Citizens living in new suburban developments have reported hearing packs of howling coyotes at night and seeing solitary coyotes or foxes wandering down residential streets. People have even reported seeing foxes and coyotes in downtown Denver.

The mere presence of wildlife does not constitute a threat, but when those wild animals become accustomed to human handouts, the potential for problems escalates.

“It’s important for us as residents of Colorado to learn to coexist with wildlife, and that would include not feeding wildlife to reduce possible conflicts. It’s easier for us to learn to adjust our lifestyles than to expect wildlife to do so. They are only doing what comes natural to them and they don’t know any better,” Romero said. “It’s our duty to keep the ‘wild’ in wildlife.”

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us (http://wildlife.state.co.us/).