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Feeding Wildlife In Winter Can Do Them Harm
Depending upon their severity, winter conditions create hardships, and during these hard times, our thoughts frequently turn to the plight of the wild animals around us.
They’re probably coping better than we are.
Wildlife professionals will point out that wildlife has, for millennia, adapted to cope with harsh winter weather such as deep snow, cold temperatures, and high winds. It's the same with wildlife everywhere. And they also point out that feeding wild animals in winter can have serious consequences, although they take a softer tone regarding wild bird feeding.
It should be noted, though, that feeding wild birds can attract many types of wildlife, including turkeys and small mammals like squirrels and mice. Those are all prey species, and predators like bears, foxes, fishers, and coyotes that feed on small mammals can be drawn to your yard
Deep snow makes it difficult for deer because low browse is covered. They can free some of it by pawing, or they can take the easy way out and just come over to your yard and eat your expensive ornamental plantings.
Many stores now carry food for wild animals. You can buy 50 pound bags of deer corn, deer pellets, wildlife mixtures that consist of a variety of grains and forage products, and salt and mineral licks. You might want to reconsider the wisdom of feeding local wildlife.
One problem with establishing feeding stations is that it causes wildlife to congregate in abnormally high densities, and that can have unintended consequences. It puts children and pets at risk, and it also subjects small wildlife to injury or death from our pets.
Animals can become aggressive when there are nearby competitors for food. Scuffles not only present the risk of injury or death, but also cause the animals to waste energy reserves. And when animals congregate, there’s always the chance to spread disease and parasites. Also there can be environmental consequences when vegetation and habitat are negatively impacted because a territory can only support so many animals.
Do You Feed Wildlife Other Than Birds?
Backyard feeding also encourages animals to cross roads, increasing the danger of deer/vehicle collisions. This is a major problem, as reported in http://bobbamberg.hubpages.com/hub/Be-Wary-of-Deer-Crossing .
Wild animals seasonally change behaviors, which enables them to cope with harsh conditions. Feeding stations can alter those behaviors, often with harmful results. Plus, animals can become reliant on humans, and habituated, which puts us mere mortals at risk.
One thing you can do is improve wildlife habitat on or near your property. You can provide appropriate plantings, or regenerate natural food and cover such as forest or brushy habitat. The best thing, though, is to step back and allow the animals’ instincts to take over.