Don’t forget we are only visitors in the home of wildlife!
Every time we head to the trails, we are expecting not only to enjoy a healthy activity but also the possibility of viewing amazing wildlife. It is an incredible feeling being able to watch wildlife in their natural habit.
Sometimes we forget we are visiting wildlife in their home. So, we must respect their property at all times. This means, for example: not littering, avoiding cutting trees or damaging plants. Just picture in your head a friend of yours throwing garbage on your rug and setting a fire on your favorite couch. Enjoying the outdoors comes with a responsibility to care for nature. Feeding wild animals can cause major health problems for these natural inhabitants, especially during winter.
Don’t Feed The Animals!
Since I can remember I have always heard the instruction: Don’t feed the animals! Nonetheless, it seems that people forget this when they are in the outdoors. Maybe, because they feel no one is going to nag about it or maybe because they think they are “helping” wildlife.
However, the truth is that humans can cause serious problems to big game animals. Feeding big game is not only illegal in many States, but it is deadly for wildlife. According to Colorado Parks and wildlife’s terrestrial biologists, the digestive systems of deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep are specialized for natural food sources, not the common types of feed we give to livestock and pets –hay, corn, grains, alfalfa, birdseed and pet foods.
As fall begins, the digestive systems of ungulates change so that they can efficiently digest vegetation that is naturally dried out and low in nutritional value such as leaves, twigs, and grasses. This process will be essential throughout winter when food is harder to find. When big game wild life eat nutrient-dense food such as corn or alfalfa, their digestive systems produce high amounts of acid which causes them to become dehydrated. During the winter, they can develop digestive problems that will kill them within a few days.
Park rangers are constantly encouraging people to avoid not only interfering with wildlife but also to report anyone who is feeding wild animals. A fine of $70 can be administered for feeding wildlife. A ridiculously small amount if we consider the real cost of playing with the life of a living creature.
It is vital to be responsible for our actions in the outdoors. Remember it is essential when camping to not only select the correct camping tent and site but also to keep your camping area neat. Littering and leaving a mess will attract wild animals.
Even unintentionally we can “feed” wildlife by offering a meal they can’t refuse when we don’t store and discard of food properly.
Follow the park ranger’s instructions and park rules. If you have a question regarding the park’s regulations such as building fires don’t hesitate to ask. Enjoy the outdoors responsibly!