Don’t Feed Winter Wildlife

The time of year is upon us when many homeowners feel the need to feed wildlife. The nights and days are cold, the snow is deep, the animals must need some help with food, right?

Wrong!

Most animals that are healthy have adapted well to survive harsh winter conditions. They will be able to feed and forage enough to survive even the longest winter. Those animals that are weak or sick will succumb to natural selection, which does more good than harm. It limits the spread of disease and works to control overpopulation in areas that may not be able to support higher numbers of a particular species. It also helps the long term survival of a species as only the strongest and toughest of it’s kind will survive.

Feeding animals during the winter months can actually cause more harm than good. When you habituate a species to feeding on one food source in one place, the negative consequences of a quick meal begin to arise :

1. Animals will congregate near homes which can raise the potential for nuisance wildlife complaints and damage to your home or property.

2. When prey species such as small game and deer become habituated to an unnatural food source (unnatural meaning you placed it there) it increases the risk for attracting predator species such as fox, coyote, bobcats, fisher, etc. In turn, this can increase the risk of incidents between wild predator species and your pets, small children and even you.

3. Animals that continue to congregate in higher numbers in small areas for unnatural feed have an increased risk of spreading and/or contracting diseases.

4. When animals are habituated to an unnatural food source they can and do lose some of their ability to forage for food in the wild. This will negatively affect the animal in the long term.

Read more about winter’s impact on Connecticut wildlife HERE in this article published 2/1/15 in the Hartford Courant.