Explore and Protect

Is it okay to feed wild animals if I give them healthy natural foods?

It’s always a bad idea to feed wildlife, even if you are offering healthy or natural food. Human food, even if it’s considered healthy, may not be part of the natural diet of that animal and cause nutrition problems. Feeding animals changes their behavior and may make them reliant on human sources of food and less able to survive on their own. Animals can also lose their fear of people and approach or beg. This can result in harm to people or to the animal (e.g., boat strikes, fishing hooks, car collisions). Sometimes animals that become habituated and comfortable with human contact because of feeding are ultimately removed and euthanized. As they say, “a fed gator is a dead gator.” Feeding sites that attract many animals may become hotspots for disease, parasites, or fights. Watch out for accidental feeding, too. Leaving pet food outside, failing to secure household garbage or dumping fish scraps can create all the problems listed above. However, the small exception to this rule is birdfeeders. They can be beneficial or harmful depending on how and where you maintain them. Learn more on optimizing birdfeeders from Audubon. Overall, the most natural food you can offer birds and wildlife comes from adding native plants to your landscape.


How to Support Wildlife