Don’t feed the animals

Do not feed the coyotes. Photo: Martin Murphy

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Feb. 16, 2009 issue of Fermilab Today.

It has been a long, cold winter. It’s easy to fall prey to the pleading, saucer-sized eyes of a coyote or raccoon looking for a snack.

You think: “It’s just one crumb. It can’t hurt.”

Wrong.

Feeding animals disrupts their natural food cycle and encourages them to lose their fear of people and vehicles.

Coyotes naturally see humans as a potential threat. Their comfort level around humans only increases when people give the animals an incentive, such as an easily-accessible meal.

“We don’t want coyotes getting comfortable around humans,” said Rod Walton, Fermilab’s ecologist. “They’re wild animals, and they can be dangerous.”

Food has been left at the dog training area, which has led to animals approaching cars and people.

Recently, a coyote approached a person parked in the dog training area with interest in the person’s sandwich.

“The issue is that the coyote approached the person in the first place,” Walton said.

To prevent coyote domestication, please make sure you are not leaving trash or food outdoors. Scattering bird seed or filling a bird feeder is fine.