Do a good deed and do not feed the wildlife in your yard

Last Updated: 
August 28, 2008

Raccoon standing in a tree.CORVALLIS - Many people feed deer, raccoons and other suburban wildlife, thinking they are helping these animals out by providing food.

Don't feed the wildlife in your yard, say wildlife biologists, including Oregon State University professor Dan Edge, and Jeff Picton, director of the Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Corvallis.

Providing food for wild animals is not a good idea because:



  • Supplemental feeding encourages wildlife to become dependent on handouts that are not a part of their natural diets.

  • Juvenile animals become used to depending on humans and may never develop normal foraging behavior. They could starve if the artificial food sources are removed.
    Human foods are usually nutritionally inadequate for wildlife and may lead to health problems.
  • Wildlife may lose their fear of humans and pets, leading to unfortunate encounters with aggressive pets and humans.
  • Wild animals being fed supplementally may congregate in unnaturally high numbers, increasing the chances of disease transmission.

To discourage wild animals from foraging near your house, Edge and Picton recommend that homeowners keep garbage cans tightly shut. Rinse cans and bottles for recycling thoroughly before putting them out for curbside pick up.

Keep your compost pile fenced from animals. This may not keep all animals (such as rodents) out, but it will help. Or use a closed compost container.

Feed your pets indoors, or take outdoor food bowls in at night.

Put livestock and poultry in pens at night.

Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Dan Edge, Jeff Picton