Keep Wildlife WIld

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In recent years Big Cypress Resource Management staff has noted an increase in the number of interactions between humans and wildlife at the preserve, such as alligators, birds, and squirrels. These interactions seem to be connected by animals receiving food as a reward for their willingness to come close to people.

The problem is one of human behavior--people feeding wildlife, people not disposing of trash properly, people leaving food unattended at campgrounds and rest stops, and people leaving food scraps behind. Food reward that animals associate with humans can result in their loss of fear of humans. This change in behavior may lead to property damage and human injury. For the animals involved it may mean negative health effects or overpopulation resulting from unnatural food sources, dependence on a seasonably unreliable food source, and greater susceptibility to predators and vehicle collisions.



This includes birds, squirrels, foxes, alligators, bears and all other wild animals.
Feeding or approaching wildlife can cause problems for both humans and wildlife. Wild animals that learn to associate humans with food often become dependent on human-related food and garbage. They lose their wildness, may become unhealthy and often threaten people and property. They may be cute, but feeding them is bad for you and the animals.

Many animals have specialized diets and the wrong foods can negatively affect their health.

Artificial food sources can cause increased wildlife populations that are damaging to the environment and that natural available food supplies can’t support. Unnatural foods can also make them sick.

Feeding causes wild animals to lose their natural fear of humans.
Wildlife can become an easy target, or the bold advances of an animal may be misinterpreted as an “attack” on a person.

You risk injury when you do not keep a respectful distance from wild animals.
Wild animals can misinterpret your actions. They don’t know where the food stops and your fingers begin. The animal is blamed when people complain of being bitten or “attacked."

Wild animals often cause property damage when they are fed human food.
Animals will chew or bite into packs and coolers and even enter vehicles and buildings when they learn that these can be sources for food. Foxes, squirrels, and bears have entered or damaged tents to get at food stored improperly.

Feeding wild animals changes their behavior, often with catastrophic results.
Animals are often injured or killed when they spend more time around vehicles at roads and parking areas. They are also easier for predators to catch in these open areas.

It is against Big Cypress National Preserve regulations to feed wild animals.
A violation may result in a $150 fine. Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 2.2(a)(2).

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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