Feeding wild animals – a good idea?

Fox at the Botanical Garden
Credit: Espace pour la vie (Claude Lafond)
Feeding wild animals – a good idea?

There’s no denying that city residents nowadays love coming into contact with urban-dwelling animals, and the cuter they are the better. Just think of the fox cubs at the Jardin botanique. But if you want to show real affection for animals it’s better to keep your distance – and above all keep from feeding them.

Three bad reasons for feeding wild animals:

To get THE best picture
The art of animal photography demands patience and a keen sense of observation. But to speed things up, some people don’t hesitate to attract an animal with food. If that practice becomes widespread, though, it can be very harmful for the animal.

To “help” the animal survive
There are some who are convinced that the animal won’t survive without their support. The intention may be good, but the impact is often the reverse.

To tame an animal
There are some who find the animal adorable to such an extent that they feel they want to make closer contact with it, touch it, even cuddle it. The practice is dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs. Taming an animal is a long process, and in any case, these aren’t the sort of animal that should be domesticated.

The animal suffers much more than you might think from these behaviors and from gifts of food that in no way correspond to what it eats in nature. Besides losing its instinctive fear of humans, the animal’s feeding behavior and its health are upset. It will no longer be shy about approaching humans, about allowing itself to be fed, and about nibbling on a finger at the same time as the food. It will pick through the garbage to find the same type of food it’s being given and put its health – and that of humans – in jeopardy.

Loving animals above and beyond appearances

In addition to the good intentions that turn out to be injurious in the short and medium term, humans also tend to interpret the behaviors and physical characteristics of animals as though they were human too. A cute little fox is therefore more at risk of “undergoing” the harmful effects of human behavior then an animal with less charming features. What we must learn is how to love animals above and beyond their appearance and resist the temptation to interpret their reality in our image and through our own emotions.

Urban parks, nature parks, Mount Royal and the Jardin botanique are wonderful places in Montreal where it’s possible to observe animals. In town or in the country, they are and must remain wild, for the sake of their physical wellbeing and for their safety and ours. And anyway, it’s much more engrossing to observe the natural behavior of a fox cub chasing a mouse or squirrel than to be there for the sorry spectacle of a fox cub choking on a hot dog!

Do you want to get involved?
Sign up for the Our Time to Act newsletter

Share this page

Follow us!

Subscribe to receive by email:
1 Comment(s)
Steve Troletti's picture
Steve Troletti

Very happy to find this article on the Space for Life web site. Thanks for putting in the effort to create awareness on this issue.

Add new comment
Anonymous's picture