Wild animals, including birds, are generally able to meet their own needs within their natural habitat. Feeding an animal often means that animal, and ultimately its offspring, becomes dependent on an unnatural food source, which contributes to habituation. Supplemental feed isn’t always fulfilling nutritional needs since the food offered is not typically as diverse or balanced as what they would find foraging on their own. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to serious ailments and deformities like Metabolic Bone Disease and Angel Wing.
Large concentrations of animals are attracted to areas that can’t naturally support such numbers, and may discourage natural foraging behaviour. It encourages unnatural communal feeding, which increases the spread of disease, and waste byproducts can contaminate the ecosystem. It can also leave animals vulnerable to predators attracted to an open and densely populated hunting spot. Scavengers like mice, rats and raccoons will be attracted to leftovers or garbage, attracting bigger predators like foxes or coyotes in turn.
Feeding wildlife isn’t always intentional. It is more commonly indirect actions that attract and feed wild animals. Some general principles to follow:
Avoid feeding pets outdoors. Bring food and dishes in when finished, or preferably feed indoors.
Avoid overflowing bird feeders. Only offer what will be consumed in a day or two.
Avoid unsealed or unsecured garbage containers. Keep garbage inside, in a garage or shed if available, or use wildlife proof storage bins.
Put waste materials out the morning of pickup. Road side garbage overnight increases the chance of vehicle strikes.
Rinse food waste prior to disposal, crush and flatten cans to prevent animals from getting stuck and trapped. Cut plastic rings.