Written by Industry Expert Gavin Ferris, Ecologist
A few years back in the spring, residents of South Hampton, NH found six dead deer in a suburban lot. Several biologists and a game warden then investigated the site and found six more. The deer had not been shot or killed by predators, nor had they starved or died of exposure. They had been fed to death. With their stomachs and digestive systems used to their winter diet of woody browse, a sudden bounty of corn from a well-meaning human can be a shock to the system, in this case resulting in fatal enterotoxemia.
This example is dramatic, perhaps even extreme, but it illustrates the potential consequences of feeding wildlife. Certainly, not every animal that gets fed by a human will inevitably suffer a gruesome and untimely death. All the same, it usually isn’t good for the wildlife, it might not be good for the aquatic environment or its human inhabitants, and in the vicinity of a lake or pond it can be extremely bad for the water. It is perfectly natural, even admirable, for people to want to help the wildlife that they share their surroundings with. Unfortunately, there are several major consequences to feeding wildlife that make anything more than a backyard bird feeder quite unhealthy for all involved.