Friday, September 19, 2008

Reader question: When is feeding crossing the line?

Q: I keep seeing warning after warning: It's against the law to feed or harass wildlife, including birds. Where do they draw the line on the people who have been feeding the backyard birds in their bird feeders for years? Why do stores sell bird feeders and bird food? There must be a fine line between what you can feed and what you can't feed but, who's the one to make that decision? Do I make that decision, or does the officer issuing the ticket make that decision? -- Mike

A: You will have to check with your local laws and also any regulations in your particular community, as some people live in homeowners' associations that might have rules against bird feeders.

For us personally, though, we don't see any problem with setting out backyard bird feeders. It's when you try to hand-feed an animal that usually causes problems. If you are standing there and tossing food to the animal or even trying to get it to take food from your hand, then that's not good. If you are feeding wildlife somewhere besides your own property, then that's not good.

I like to think of it like this: Is the animal in question trying to get away from you when you approach? Most bird-feeder birds (and squirrels) will. Animals that approach you for food, though, have been habituated to depending on people for food, and that's when you know you've crossed the line.

Do any other readers have thoughts to share on this topic?

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Anonymous Mauve said...

Well said.

Mon Nov 10, 06:26:00 PM EST  

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