Don’t Feed The Bears (Or Any Other Wildlife)

RaccoonEven if you’ve never been in bear country, you’re familiar with those signs that read, “Don’t Feed the Bears”. But it’s not just bears that you have to avoid feeding. Never feed wildlife of any kind when you’re out in nature. This is true regardless if there’s a sign posting a friendly warning or no sign at all.

Why is it bad to feed wildlife?

There are good reasons why you’re not supposed to feed wildlife. Those park rangers aren’t just trying to spoil your fun or ruin your chances of a really good wildlife selfie.

It disturbs the ecosystem.

Believe it or not, animals aren’t supposed to be hand-fed by humans. When animals grow accustomed to easy food, they become less capable – or less motivated – to find food on their own. This seems pretty insignificant, but even minor changes in an ecosystem can have a significant impact.

It puts people in danger.

When animals start associating people with food, they get bold and seek people out. This is dangerous when it brings animals such as bears or wolves, but even seemingly harmless animals like squirrels or raccoons can pose a threat. If you’ve ever spent time at a popular hiking vantage like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, you know just how brave a squirrel or chipmunk can get. These animals have been known to literally pry food from a hiker’s hand, and when aggravated, can attack humans.

It puts wildlife in danger.

Once animals start feeling comfortable around people, the incident of animal attacks on humans increases. This can result in animals being killed or relocated in order to protect campers, hikers, and visitors. Animals are also more exposed to vehicle traffic.

So don’t feed the wildlife. This goes beyond holding out a handful of cashews to an eager and overweight squirrel, or tossing a doughnut at a bear. Don’t leave food out at your campsite. Properly store food in your vehicle, bear canister, or bear bins provided at a campsite. Properly dispose of all trash and food waste to keep animals from venturing near campgrounds and campsites.

Sure, there’s a certain thrill to feeding an animal, but save it for the geese in city parks, not wildlife. Keep people safe and animals wild. Don’t feed the bears (or any other wildlife)!

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