Keep Wildlife Wild; It’s NOT OK to Feed the Animals
The Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is asking locals and visitors of Muskoka to not feed the wildlife.
Though it may be enjoyable and seem like an easy way to connect with nature, the repercussions from it may do more harm than good - leading the local wildlife rehabilitation group to plead to the public against handing wild animals any snacks.
“Every summer, we hear from an increasing number of people with the best of intentions,” said Jan Kingshott, Director of Animal Welfare at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. “While it may seem harmless to feed wildlife, that’s the furthest from the truth.”
A press release from AVWS included a list of reasons why feeding wildlife is harmful to not only the animal but our fragile ecosystem as well:
Wild animals become habituated when humans feed them.
When wildlife is repeatedly fed by (and exposed to) humans, it becomes habituated. Animals lose their healthy sense of fear, and may stay closer to people and roadways, which are associated with food. This is dangerous and can result in hundreds of animals being killed every year. Furthermore, wildlife can be startled and feel threatened if people come too close. When threatened, animals might kick or bite, injuring people, property, or pets.
Wild animals have specialized diets and can become malnourished or die if fed the wrong foods.
Malnutrition is the inadequate intake of any of the required nutrients, and can occur even in wildlife that is being fed large amounts of food. Case in point: deer have sensitive digestive systems that cannot readily adapt to supplemental food sources. Deer have actually died of starvation with full stomachs because their digestive systems were unable to process the supplemental food.
Wild animals crowding at feeding sites increases the risk of animal-to-animal disease transmission.
More animals die from disease-related ailments than from starvation. The provision of natural or non-natural food at a specific location can result in large congregations of wildlife in a small area. This has the potential to increase disease transmission – either directly between the animals or indirectly via the feed station.
The sanctuary also included a number of actions the average Muskokan can implement in their own lives to help wildlife thrive in our area:
- NUMBER ONE: Refrain from feeding wildlife.
- Dismantle feeding stations.
- Put garbage out the morning of collection using wildlife-proof bins.
- Keep pet food indoors.
- Pick up fallen fruit from trees in your back yard.
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance.
- Learn as much as you can about wildlife
Lastly the Wildlife sanctuary offered a safe alternative for Hunters Bay Radio readers and listeners, who want to come close with our beautiful environment and its creatures.
“We are excited to be offering guided tours once again,” said Linda Glimps, Executive Director, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. “It’s a unique opportunity to see our permanent wildlife residents, hear their stories, and learn how to live in harmony with wildlife.”
AVWS has moose, coyotes, bears, and a wolf pack in residence, to name a few. Sadly, the majority of these animals came to AVWS as a direct result of human interference. Many were born or raised in captivity and were later seized by authorities who then approached AVWS to provide them with forever homes.
To show support for the not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary, consider making a donation on their website.
Visit www.aspenvalley.ca to discover the many ways to support the animals in their care, and learn how to “keep wildlife wild”.