RALEIGH, N.C. (May 8, 2012) — Pups, cubs, chicks, kits and other young wildlife are an important —and welcome — harbinger of spring in North Carolina. But the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding people that feeding them can hurt the wildlife and jeopardize the health of humans. It also can harm the ecosystem.
“Wild animals are not pets, and they are not meant to be raised and fed by humans,” said David Cobb, chief of the Commission’s Division of Wildlife Management. “Wild animals never totally lose their wild instincts, even if the animal seems tame. Those instincts can show up anytime and the results can be harmful to people and the animal.”
Capturing and handling a young animal can stress it, sometimes fatally. In addition, young animals that look abandoned often are not. Many species do not stay with their young constantly and only return to feed them. The parent may return and become aggressive in an attempt to defend its young. And, as a young animal grows, it, too, can become aggressive.
Feeding animals may seem harmless or even helpful. However, it causes the animal to lose its natural fear of humans and seek more human food. An animal may become aggressive or cause property damage in its search for more human food.
Wildlife can transmit diseases, including rabies and roundworm, to humans. Also, it is illegal to keep wildlife in North Carolina without a permit. Violators are subject to fines and the animals are typically euthanized.
For more information on coexisting with wildlife, including young animals, visit www.ncwildlife.org.