Driving with my grandfather on Sunday, we went down to Malpeque Harbour, where the former Cat Hotel was. On our way back, we noticed a fox sitting at the entrance to the harbour, watching some of the cars go in and out.

We knew it was the same one we had seen when we did a similar drive on Christmas Day 2018. While snapping a photo of the fox to show my family, one of the fishers pulled up to me and said the fox would likely come closer if I had any food on me that I could give to it, something other people in the area had been doing.

It can’t be stressed enough: Don’t feed wild animals.

First and foremost, they will lose their natural fear of people. While that might not seem to be as big of an issue on PEI, where the biggest wild predator is a coyote, in other places, it’s really serious. Living in rural British Columbia, there were always a number of warnings posted not to feed wild animals, or even leave garbage out in an area that can easily be accessed. More than once a news story broke about how a bear had to be killed because it got too comfortable being around residential or recreational areas, potentially creating a safety risk. Cases like this are always a last resort.

Feeding a wild animal from a vehicle can be dangerous not only to the animal, but for people and property as well. An animal could be hit by a moving vehicle, or might try to enter it in search of food.

If an animal becomes used to being fed by people and that feeding becomes irregular, it can become aggressive toward people. This can, and has resulted in human injury and death.

Animals can also become sick if fed the wrong food because it can upset their digestive systems. Believe it or not, they can also become addicted to human food because of the high fructose and sucrose found in some food.

Population imbalances can also occur if an artificial food supply is introduced. This can encourage animals to produce bigger families, but if that food supply disappears, natural resources might not be able to support a larger population, which can lead to starvation and disease. Something like this affects not only one species, but a whole ecosystem as well, which can causes potential environmental consequences as a result.

It’s understandable to want to feed a wild animal if it looks like it’s starving, it’s probably not and there’s a good chance it already has a natural food supply of its own.

If you see a wild animal and get the urge to feed it, don’t.

Jillian Trainor

 

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