Walking through the Forest Preserves of Cook County, visitors may encounter a variety of wildlife: deer, rabbits, raccoons and more. While our instinct may be to feed them, it’s important to know that feeding wildlife could cause them more harm than good!
The Forest Preserves’ Mighty Acorns team recently meet with 5th and 6th grade students at Luther Burbank Elementary School to teach them about the ecology of the Forest Preserves and how it is affected by the deer population.
Following their lesson, the students were asked to showcase their knowledge about human impacts on nature and wildlife, and were challenged to create posters that would help others understand the problems associated with feeding wildlife. Check out the top three posters below.
According to the Forest Preserves’ Deputy Director of Resource Management Chip O’Leary, feeding wildlife can cause a variety of problems, both for the animals and for humans. Below are a couple reasons why feeding wildlife can be bad:
- Wild animals are unpredictable. While they may appear to be acting like a domestic animal, something could trigger a wild animal to potentially harm the person feeding them.
- Feeding animals makes them vulnerable. Feeding a wild animal may make them think they can go up to anyone for food, putting them in a potentially dangerous situation. Additionally, the animal may learn a new routine, and any predators who may be watching that animal can easily track and target them.
- Human food isn’t nutritionally good for wildlife. Wildlife is not accustomed to eating and digesting human foods. For example, sugars in certain foods, such as bread, could cause tooth decay. While humans can go to a dentist for teeth-related concerns, an animal cannot.
- Animals can transmit diseases. By getting close to animals, humans can become susceptible to zoonotic diseases.
Although feeding wildlife is not a good way to care for them, O’Leary explains Forest Preserves visitors can positively impact wildlife in other ways. By supporting and helping to improve habitats, Forest Preserves visitors can help wildlife thrive. To learn how to volunteer with the Forest Preserves, visit our volunteer resources page.