While you may have the best intentions, feeding wildlife in Colorado is against the law, with good reasoning behind it.
According to a press release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, information officers are urging the public not to feed wildlife.
New Year, Same Wildlife Laws in Colorado
We're just a few short weeks into the new year, but already the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department has received several reported incidents of people illegally feeding wildlife.
These reports have in fact led to citations, and those in violation can face hefty fines.
Feeding Colorado Wildlife Does More Harm Than Good
With the winter season in full effect, some might believe that providing food to wildlife is doing them a favor.
“The hardcore truth about feeding wildlife is that it does more harm than good,” said CPW area wildlife manager Adrian Archuleta of Durango. “It can serve to create conflict with humans and can directly lead to the spread of diseases.”
The Reality Is Far Worse
In actuality, feeding wildlife can be fatal to not only the animal you fed but also other animals who come in contact with that one.
The CPW states: "Animals that are attracted to the provided food are exposed to the pathogens in the environment and can also spread pathogens directly to each other through “nose-to-nose” contact."
In addition, wildlife is just that - WILD. Attempting to feed wildlife also puts yourself and others in the area in danger.
Real-Life Examples in Colorado
Deer have adjusted to their routine diets, but when you feed a deer outside food such as corn or birdseed, it can cause digestion issues and lead to, "acid burns to the stomach from the byproducts of digesting carbohydrates."
“It’s always difficult to see the unintentional harm done to these animals,” said CPW wildlife pathologist Karen Fox. “I would like to believe that most people would refrain from feeding wildlife if they knew the harm it could cause.”
CPW says that even hay can have harmful effects on deer.
"Deer given grass hay have starved to death with full stomachs because the hay did not provide the balanced nutrition the deer needed. In other cases, deer given alfalfa hay died from bloating when the alfalfa created froth in the stomach."
The Moral of the Story
If you truly want to help wildlife, do your part by not feeding them. In the event that you spot another person feeding wildlife, CPW urges you to report these incidences to your nearest CPW office.
“We need people to hold each other accountable,” Archuleta said. “Please, call your local office and report those who are breaking this law. It doesn’t only protect those in our community but the animals themselves.”