A wildlife protection group is spreading the message that feeding wildlife doesn’t help the animals and can have unforeseen consequences with a new ad campaign hitting Vancouver this week.
The Fur-Bearers, a non-partisan, charitable organization, developed a series of multilingual advertisements that are sending the message ‘Thank you for not feeding wildlife’ to thousands of residents and visitors daily. Digital platforms at Skytrain stations, print advertisements and social media and web advertising will cycle the message for at least four weeks. The ad campaign points to a website, TheFurBearers.com/Feeding, which outlines the dangers to animals – even when just feeding a single squirrel in the park.
“Providing food to urban wildlife, whether intentionally or not, teaches animals behaviours that can ultimately be dangerous for them and other people, cause poor health for the animals, and have a ripple effect through the ecosystem,” says Michael Howie, spokesperson for The Fur-Bearers. “We know people enjoy feeding wildlife as a way to get closer for photos and for an interaction with nature. And, sadly, we know that people are rarely around when that animal they fed nips someone else expecting food or crosses a road to access an artificial food source. There are consequences to feeding, and they by far outweigh any positives.”
Stanley Park became infamous in 2021 due to unusual coyote behaviour that led to more than 40 people being bitten or scratched and a dozen coyotes killed. While there are a number of factors, all experts agree that feeding – regardless of intent – was a significant factor in the change in behaviour.
“There are ways people can feel close to nature and support wildlife they love without feeding or causing changes to the natural, wild behaviours of these animals,” Howie explains. “We’re encouraging people to visit our page TheFurBearers.com/Feeding to learn more about this and the importance of coexistence and keeping wildlife wild.”
The ad campaign will reach millions of individuals in Vancouver and will run through October 25 to the end of November 2021. The website, TheFurBearers.com/feeding, also has options to translate the page via Google into commonly spoken languages including Mandarin, Punjabi, French, and Spanish.