It seems like a good idea: provide feed for wildlife struggling to make it through a harsh winter.
Unfortunately, when regular folks provide feed for wildlife it puts both animals and our families at risk. When we artificially feed wild animals, they become accustomed to us and lose their fear of people. They then can become bold, aggressive, and even dangerous to our families and our pets. In addition, wildlife aren’t designed to digest the kinds of food many people put out so it can make them sick, or even kill them. Potentially even worse, artificially feeding wildlife concentrates animals, which can attract predators like cougars near our homes.
There are numerous other reasons to limit artificial feeding of wildlife: increased risk of disease transmission, more animals killed on our roads, and the habituation of wildlife to unnatural, artificial conditions.
All of this is why both Teton County and the Town of Jackson already have rules in place prohibiting the feeding of wild animals. Here’s the thing, since these rules are in the form of zoning ordinances, they are very difficult to enforce and therefore not very effective.
Thankfully, the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife, and Cultural Resources Committee of the Wyoming Legislature recently sponsored a bill for discussion in next year’s legislative session that would empower Wyoming counties with the ability to pass resolutions to regulate and enforce regulations that prohibit artificial feeding of wildlife. Local control of these resolutions is good because it means counties can choose how best to develop and implement these regulations. These resolutions would shift enforcement of our prohibition on feeding wildlife from planning departments to the Sherriff’s Office, making them significantly more effective.
This is an easy and common sense step toward protecting wildlife and our families.
Please take a moment to thank Teton County Representatives Ruth Ann Petroff (Committee Co-chair) and Andy Schwartz, and Committee Co-Chair Senator Stan Cooper, for their hard work in drafting, leading, and sponsoring the County Resolution-Feeding Wildlife bill.
Click here to thank your elected representatives today. With their support, we’re hopeful this bill will advance in next year’s legislative session.
Click here to read a recent article in the Billings Gazette about this bill.