Feeding wildlife often does more harm than good. Feeding wildlife can unintentionally lead to negative consequences for both animals and people. Feeding wildlife is illegal in Mississauga under the City’s Animal Care and Control By-law, with a minimum fine of $300. This includes leaving food out, disposing of food waste, or providing food in natural areas.
Wild animals such as raccoons, birds, foxes and coyotes have evolved to find their own food and shelter. Encouraging these animals to rely on their natural instincts is crucial for their long-term survival and the health of our urban environments.
When self-sufficient, wildlife reduces the chances of animals scavenging properties for food or becoming aggressive toward humans in search of handouts.
Feeding wildlife can encourage them to enter urban areas, increasing their chances of being involved in accidents, potentially leading to property damage, injury or even death. There is also a health risk when animals carrying diseases like rabies get too close to humans.
Wildlife feeding can lead to unwelcome animal activity and unsanitary conditions. Handing out bread, nuts or leftovers to hungry animals may be an act of kindness, but in reality, it can condition wildlife to rely on humans for food. Doing so can lead to some unintended consequences.
Depending on food sources
Skunks, squirrels, raccoons and chipmunks can become dependent on humans for their food, abandoning their instincts to forage in the wild. This dependency can lead to illness and disease. It can also cause wildlife to set up their home on your property, like nesting in your attic, burrowing beneath sheds or under your deck.
Losing fear of humans
Animals that regularly receive handouts lose their natural fear of humans and pets, potentially causing them to approach people more frequently, which can be risky for both the animals and humans.
When food sources, like birdseed, are readily available, wildlife may gather in large numbers. This could potentially lead to the spread of diseases and disruption of natural habitats. It can also have long-term negative impacts on local ecosystems.
Offering wildlife food can inadvertently attract other pests, like rats and mice, which, in turn, can attract larger predators like coyotes.
So next time you want to feed the birds, think twice and remember that observing wildlife from a distance and allowing them to fend for themselves supports the well-being of both animals and our community.
For more information about urban wildlife in Mississauga, visit mississauga.ca/wildlife.
SOURCE City of Mississauga