While the dangers of feeding large wildlife like bears and moose are clear, it’s easier to succumb to feeding Grand County’s smaller furry critters.
Foxes, squirrels and coyotes may seem cute and hungry, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife remind residents and visitors that feeding all wildlife is illegal. It’s also unethical and dangerous.
“We’ve had a lot of problems in the past,” said Mike Crosby, district wildlife manager for the Hot Sulphur Springs Office. “What happens is the foxes and small wildlife become accustomed to human food.”
When animals become accustomed to human feeding, they can bite and attack pets. They also spread disease like rabies and canine distemper.
Human food also is harmful to wildlife. The animals become less reliant on hunting, and human-supplied food often doesn’t meet their nutritional needs.
“Some people think they’re doing the right thing, but that’s not the case. They’re taking these animals from a natural to artificial diet,” Crosby said.
Feeding wildlife sometimes happens unintentionally. Crosby recommends residents feed their pets inside. And while feeding wild birds is legal, Crosby cautions against it. The seed can attract squirrels and bears.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will issue warnings for illegal wildlife feeding. If offenses continue, they write tickets and issue fines. But illegal feeding is difficult for Parks and Wildlife to enforce.
“It’s very hard to actually catch people doing it.,” Crosby said. “There aren’t many of us and we’re spread pretty thin.”
Residents can help maintain wildlife help by reporting illegal feedings to the Hot Sulphur Springs Parks and Wildlife Office at 970-725-6200.