If you're tempted to feed raccoons or other wildlife, here's a tip: Don't | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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If you're tempted to feed raccoons or other wildlife, here's a tip: Don't

Raccoon populations appear to be expanding throughout North America especially in urban areas where access to food is abundant.
Image Credit: PIXABY
October 11, 2021 - 6:00 PM

As our communities expand some residents report they are spotting more wildlife in their neighbourhoods, often catching wildlife on their home security cameras. The wildfires that ravaged areas of the province this year have displaced many wildlife species and damaged or removed their natural habitats.

There are some reports of people feeding wild animals, such as bears and raccoons, and while the practice of feeding wildlife may seem well intentioned by some, it is not recommended for a number of reasons.

READ MORE: Whistler woman's buffet for bears results in $60,000 fine

Vanessa Isnardy is a spokesperson for Wildsafe B.C. She said we do not help wildlife when we feed them but instead promote undesirable behaviours and increase disease transmission.

“Raccoon populations appear to be expanding throughout North America especially in urban areas where access to food is abundant,” she said. “Artificially increasing their population through intentional feeding can lead to future conflicts in your neighbourhood. While they appear adorable and harmless, there are numerous downsides to having them living in urban areas."

Isnardy said raccoons are omnivores that will eat just about anything that is edible. They can cause damage to gardens and buildings as they try to access food or find denning places for the winter and when raising offspring.

“Raccoons can kill small livestock, damage beehives and may go after fish in outdoor ponds,” she said. “Raccoons that are intentionally handfed can lose their fear of people and can become quite bold and aggressive. Some people and their pets have been attacked by the wild animals.”

Isnardy said raccoons can carry a roundworm parasite that is potentially dangerous and lethal to humans. Care should be taken when cleaning up raccoon latrines or if your pet gets raccoon feces on their fur or paws.

READ MORE: Unanimous approval for ban on feeding any wild animals in Vancouver parks

“Even bird feeding should be done responsibly by keeping feeders out of reach of bears," she said. “We should not be allowing seeds to feed non-target species like rodents and ensuring the feeders are kept clean so that they do not spread disease from bird to bird.”

Isnardy recommends people learn more about all local wildlife and their habitat needs, and support habitat conservation and restoration projects that benefit wildlife.

“We recommend observing wildlife by enjoying nature parks and bringing along some binoculars. You can provide habitat in your own backyard for pollinators and attract hummingbirds, butterflies and even bats, with appropriate plants.”

More information on other species of wildlife and useful resources can be found on the Wildsafe B.C. website.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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