Providing wild animals with a steady, human-supplied food source can lead to problems for both the animals and humans. You should refrain from feeding the wildlife for a number of reasons – one such reason is that it attracts mice and encourages them to search for additional food sources and enter the building(s).
In addition, there are many other good reasons NOT to feed wildlife including:
- When young wild animals are taught to depend on a human-provided food source, they may not fully develop essential foraging skills. Animals who are raised relying on humans for food may struggle to survive in the absence of that artificial food source when they disperse from their parents’ territory.
- Wild animals who are used to being fed by humans commonly lose their fear of people. Animals who are unafraid of people will approach them for food, and are sometimes mistaken as rabid, aggressive or mean. An instinctive wariness of people is important to a wild animal’s survival.
- The food humans usually feed to wild animals is not nutritionally complete, and it can cause serious health problems for the animals, especially when they are young and still developing. Most wild animals are opportunistic and will concentrate on the easiest food source available. When a constant human-provided food source is available, animals who would normally have a varied diet may switch to eating mainly this constantly available food.
- A constant, human-provided food source may attract many more wild animals to the area than would normally be found there. When food is readily available, animals will gather in large numbers. This means that if one animal in the group has an illness or disease, it can spread throughout the group. Many wild animals do not interact with others of their own species except during mating season and when raising their young. This is one way to limit diseases among a wild population. By gathering these animals together in unnatural groups, these diseases can spread much more quickly and can destroy a large number of animals.
- Reproduction rates may also be affected when an artificial food source is readily available. In the wild, the number of animals being born is often directly related to the amount of natural food available. The number of animals surviving will also depend on how much food is available. This is nature’s way of keeping a balance. When an unnatural food supply becomes available, animals may produce more young and soon there may be more animals living in the area than what the natural food sources can support.
If you are looking for a positive way to get closer to wild animals, consider volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation center such as Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation located in Barrington, Illinois http://www.flintcreekwildlife.org/volunteer/, where hundreds of injured and orphaned animals are in need of a little human help.