May 23, 2023 2 min read

Yes, I'm cute, but you shouldn't feed me, no matter how much I beg.


Have you encountered begging squirrels, chipmunks, deer, elk, or other animals on the trails and said to yourself, "aww, I'll just give them a little of my snack; it will be okay?" Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but it's really not a great idea. Feeding wild animals isn't the best way to 'connect with nature,' – so let's just keep our snacks to ourselves while the animals have their own nature snacks?"


 Humans feeding wildlife can harm our precious animals. Here   are some tips to keep nature safe and support keeping   wildlife wild.


  •  Squirrels can be difficult to resist since we have so many in our backyard, and so many get fed by humans or bird feeders. But squirrels that live near or on hiking trails have the ability and access to find their food. Nature is their home, and they have to be able to survive without relying on humans. When humans hand feed or throw out food to squirrels or other wildlife, we contribute to their survival behavior, especially in the winter when there is even less human contact. The animal's natural ability to forage or hunt can diminish because they start relying on human handouts. 
  • What may be healthy for humans is not always beneficial for wildlife. Even when the label says organic, human foods given to wild animals are nutritionally inadequate and may cause wild animals to have health issues.  
  • Feeding wildlife can cause increased human/animal conflicts because the animals can lose their fear of humans. We can unintentionally put wild animals and other humans in danger, and wildlife could be euthanized for dangerous behavior.

Here are ways to safely connect with wildlife while following simple guidelines. We can enjoy nature while also respecting and preserving the habitats of wild animals:

  1. Keep your distance and use your zoom on your camera or utilize those binoculars.

  2. Never share photos or videos of people feeding animals because it could encourage others also to feed wild animals.

  3. Store your food properly (pack it in, pack it out) and leave no trace.

  4. If you encounter an injured animal, always inform a Park Ranger or contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

  5. And, of course… Don't Feed Wildlife!

If you're curious about animal footprints on the trails, check out the McGovern Animal Tracks of Yellowstone and Grand Teton Bandana or the Animal Tracks Desert Bandana. These are great items to have with you when exploring and learning about the area.  



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