Summer 2002
Feeding Wildlife?

 

By

Dave Kington
Visitor Management Officer
Brisbane Forest Park 

I think it is important in considering the question of feeding wildlife to clear away the smoke screen of “helping our wildlife” and get straight to the species at the centre of this issue and its real motivation.    Which species am I referring to?    The Human species.

 

Who are we trying to please?   Ourselves without a doubt!    This question is about us wanting to see these animals up close and to have the self gratification of feeding something.    That is not to say that this is necessarily negative, but I think we need to start off with an honest intent in order to proceed objectively.

 

As a ranger involved with wildlife/people interactions for many years, it occurs to me that we want wildlife interaction as long as it occurs on our terms and until it annoys us.    Outside these parameters we tend to come up with an amazing change of identity for animals.    It seems as though we have this need to classify things as either good or bad.    What was once a cute, interesting native animal can change overnight into a demon and be regarded as a troublesome pest.

 

If we can begin by trying to understand that these animals fit into a natural system which supports them before we embark on changing things, perhaps our decision on if and how we feed, could be better taken.

 

Unfortunately, many wildlife interactions begin without consideration of any changes and sometimes end in the death of the animals either deliberately or accidentally.    It is also important to note that, just because we might accept the inconvenience caused by our close interaction with those animals, doesn’t mean that our neighbourhood will.    Very often, behaviour that is valued and cherished by one household is abhorrent to another.

 

Of course, in the Park it is very simple; the wildlife should not be fed at all.    Often, feeding of animals in adjacent residential areas has a serious flow on effects in parkland, by changing the populations, movements and habits of a species.

 

An alternative to direct feeding is to develop a garden that reflects the natural environment, providing opportunities for local wildlife to forage for their own food, yet still be observed at close range.    Most nurseries now have a good range of native ‘food’ plants for this purpose.    By creating a wildlife friendly garden, you can solve the feeding wildlife dilemma and still get to enjoy wildlife, in a more sustainable way.

 

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This article was printed with kind permission from Dave Kington and Brisbane Forest Park and first appeared in the Summer 2002 edition of their quarterly newspaper the “Bush Telegraph”.

 
 
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