Elk NetworkDon’t Feed Wild Animals

General | May 11, 2021

Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game but its message applies to all states.

Feeding that cute moose in your yard can lead to unforeseen problems and typically does more harm than good. Well-intentioned people often feed big game without realizing the problems it can create for people and the animals themselves. The public is asked to let wild animals fend for themselves as nature intended.

While they may look harmless, people need to recognize that big game animals are wild animals and can be unpredictable and dangerous. There have been several examples where big game animals have become accustomed to humans and injured or even killed people. Habituated animals can become a public safety concern and can result in the lethal removal of the animal.

Feeding in town or adjacent to busy streets is hazardous for both animal and motorists. Wildlife-vehicle collisions are common in areas where animals gather. Accidently hitting a deer or a much larger moose can cause serious personal injury, not to mention vehicle damage and injury or death to the animal.

Feeding big game can also attract wildlife that homeowners don’t want around. Mountain lions are common in the forests of Idaho, and are sometimes attracted to city’s confines where deer can find refuge and often congregate where fed.

Big game animals receiving supplemental feed often quickly congregate in unnaturally high numbers in small areas, which increases the chances of diseases spreading among the population. Crowding can create conditions ideal for disease outbreaks, which is a serious concern to residents and wildlife managers.

In addition, deer, elk and moose’s digestive systems are set up to digest food differently throughout the year. Changing from natural to supplemental high quality feed can result in digestive problems, bloat and potentially death, especially in younger animals.

Damage to vegetation near feed sites is another concern. Trees and shrubs, can be heavily damaged and take decades to recover, if at all. Some people believe that if they supply a food source, it will prevent the animals from damaging their ornamental plants.  Typically the opposite occurs and feeding usually just encourages them to stick around longer and results in greater damage.

All too often, feeding big game results in bad outcomes for the animal, people, or both.  Fish and Game asks the public not to feed big game, and that well-meaning people can actually help by not feeding them. Please don’t feed, don’t put people and wildlife at risk, and help keep wildlife wild!

(Photo source:  Kevin Kaiser/Idaho Department of Fish and Game)