Off the Record: They’re called wildlife for a reason

What really happens when humans feed the wildlife in the community

There’s been some concern in the Valley recently as to what this long cold winter is doing to our wildlife in the area. Some residents are even feeling worried about how these animals are possibly getting enough food to make it into the spring and summer seasons.

Now, don’t get me wrong I love animals and am quite the enthusiast when it comes to animal rights and welfare. However, when it comes to wildlife, I’m a firm believer in letting nature take its course. How I see it is that these wild animals know exactly how to care for themselves

By feeding the deer or the elk, what are we, as humans, teaching them? We’re teaching them that by coming back into contact with humans they’ll get an easy meal. I don’t know if Valley residents have seen the “Do Not Feed the Deer” signs around the community, but they’re there for a reason — to protect both us and the wildlife.

I understand that some may see leaving a little extra hay out in the pasture for the deer or the elk as a good thing, that by doing so you’re helping the animals. My question is: what happens to those animals come hunting season?

If they are used to having a little feed in one area, the animals will stay near that food source, then in hunting season it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel. I understand the urge to feed the animals — who wants to see the deer or the elk in the community starve? But people need to realize how their actions affect the community.

Local farmers now are dealing with full herds of elk coming to their horse’s pasture every night to eat their hay, and what is a farmer supposed to do? They’ll feed their horses an extra bale to ensure their domestic animals are getting an adequate amount of feed, but that shouldn’t be the case.

If you saw a bear out of hibernation early, would you leave a raw steak out for it? Probably not, so why are we leaving feed out for the herbivores in our community? The wildlife are used to foraging for food in the winter; often you can watch them pawing in the snow for fine grass — it’s in their nature to search for food. Animals know how to care for themselves through all the seasons, especially wild animals such as deer and elk.

Yes, we as a community should be concerned about the welfare of the animals, but we should be protecting their habitat, not luring them into our pastures.