By now, you’ve likely seen the video of the little girl pulled into the water by a sea lion in Steveston this past weekend, after she and her family appeared to be feeding it.
- Sea lion drags young girl into water in Richmond (VIDEO)
- Stephen Colbert riffed on the Steveston sea lion video on his show last night (VIDEO)
- Bear sighting in East Vancouver Friday morning
While we’re glad she’s okay for the most part, the incident got us thinking that when it comes to things you should NOT feed, it’s probably time for a quick refresher.
You see, these are all wild animals. They (and generations of their ancestors) have survived thus far without your help. And while you may think that you’re “doing a good deed” by tossing some food their way, more often than not, this act has the exact opposite effect.
Feeding wild animals causes them to become habituated, lose their natural fear of humans, and cause further problems, ultimately losing the very definition of what makes them “wild” in the first place.
In fact, in a number of cases, the situation often evolves into the animal having to be put down, or dying prematurely due to its inability to digest what we call food.
So, to help clear up any confusion, here are 21 different types of wildlife you should definitely NOT feed in Vancouver – or the surrounding area:
In case you needed any more proof that feeding these large wild animals, the incident this weekend in Steveston should be sufficient.
While raccoons are generally harmless to humans, don’t let their cute faces fool you. When they lose their fear of people, they can become aggressive towards food sources (ie: you) and injure pets, as well.
Beavers are pure vegetarians, subsisting solely on woody and aquatic vegetation. Don’t mess this up. They are not known to attack humans, but can become habituated and lose their ability find food and fend for themselves in the wild if fed by humans.
While Black Bears in the wild generally pose no threat to humans, this can drastically change if they are fed human food. Bears can quickly become dependent on human food, associating people with their food source, and in turn, making them dangerous. More often than not, they have to be euthanized as a result.
Human food isn’t healthy for marmots, and if they become dependent on it, they lose their natural foraging ability. They can either get sick as a result, or die from the lost ability to fend for themselves.
Why anyone would want to feed a skunk is beyond us. But, they are wild animals, and unless you want to be stuck in a smelly situation, they are best avoided at all costs.
Human food isn’t healthy for gophers, and if they become dependent on it, they lose their natural foraging ability. They can either get sick as a result, or die from the lost ability to find food themselves.
Our food isn’t healthy for geese, and if they develop a dependence on human handouts they could struggle to survive in the wild.
Coyotes aren’t generally a threat to human, but feeding them can cause them to lose their natural wariness of people, and this can lead to further conflict or euthanization of the animal.
Cougars are wide ranging animals and may show up in urban settings from time to time. If they are passing through it is important they do not find prey items that may encourage them to stay.
Herons fed by humans lose their ability to fend for themselves.
Supplemental feeding alters the normal avoidance behaviour of deer toward humans. Once used to food, deer lose their natural wariness and may become aggressive toward people either in protection of, or in seeking, human food sources
The digestive system of a loon was never meant to handle human food.
Cute? yes. But otters fed by humans lose the ability to fend for themselves.
While it may seem like they don’t care what they eat, feeding seagulls is never a good idea. Once dependent on our food, they can become a serious annoyance in highly-populated areas – such as Vancouver’s beaches on a hot summer day. In addition, their digestive systems were never meant to handle human food.
- See Black Bears
Human food isn’t healthy for squirrels, and if they become dependent on it, they lose their natural foraging ability. They can either get sick as a result, or die from the lost ability to find food themselves.
A duck’s digestive system was never meant to handle human food. So don’t feed them it.
Wolves aren’t generally a threat to people, but feeding them can cause them to lose their natural wariness of civilization which in turn could cause them to become a danger to us and themselves.
Frogs enjoy a nice diet, consisting mainly of insects. Let’s keep it that way.
Alvin, Simon, and Theodore aren’t real. So don’t go treating your average Chipmunk like their animated counterparts.