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Living with Wildlife

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The Impacts of Feeding Wildlife

printsFeeding wildlife and/or baiting wildlife is illegal in some states.  This regulation usually applies to animals other than songbirds, such as deer, moose, elk, bears, and wolves.  If you have questions about whether or not feeding wildlife is legal in your area, please contact the wildlife agency for your state.

Many people believe that they are helping wild animals by feeding them, but they are probably actually hurting them in the long run.  Animals that come to rely on humans for food are at a definite disadvantage, and often end up on a hunter's dinner table, or easy prey for resident predators.  And furthermore, many animals that have received some sort of food from humans frequently end up being destroyed after becoming a nuisance.

Many people enjoy feeding and watching native birds, and planting native vegetation to encourage wildlife.  In some areas this isn't really a problem.  However, for people that live in bear country, there are some important things to consider:

  • Feeding birds during the winter when many natural foods are in shorter supply is not a problem.  Feeding birds between late March and late November can attract bears though.  Bears can be active from early April until late November or even early December, depending on the weather and the availability of food.
  • Bears LOVE bird seed!  Many of you have probably seen at least one picture or heard one story about someone who had a bear on their deck or porch to score at the bird feeder.  It may look and sound cute, but unfortunately it's usually the beginning of the end for that bear.  This is especially true of black bears which are not protected in the U.S. and don't usually receive much leeway when they begin to hang out near bird feeders or houses.
  • If you must feed the birds during the months that the bears are active, please consider bringing in your bird feeders at night.  If you can't bring them in at night, hang them high off of the ground and far enough away from the nearest pole or tree that if the bears climb, they still can't get at the feeders.  It's also a good idea to clean up any bird seed that spills onto the ground.

Composting In Rural Areas

Compost piles can attract bears and other animals, so place the pile a safe distance away from the house.

Compost piles that contain landscaping debris don't tend to attract bears as frequently as compost piles that contain kitchen food scraps.  In any case, it's a good idea to put an electric fence up around your compost pile - this is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to discourage the bears.

LWWF is currently looking for other ways to construct bear-resistant compost piles.  Any new information and designs that we become aware of will be posted here.

Information on Avoiding Conflicts with Predators