The Unseen Impacts of Wildlife Feeding

Photo by Christiane Cottin (@nanididada on Instagram).

Having a chipmunk come up, sniff your finger cautiously, then nip a treat and run off is magical; I won’t lie – it’s pretty remarkable. But the consequence of that single moment of joy for a person can lead to devastating impacts to ecosystems, communities and individual animals.

Be it for a close-up experience, because of a perception of hunger and need, or even incidental feeding from outdoor pet food or bird feeders, most folks who feed wildlife do so with goodness in their heart. This episode isn’t about blaming or shaming – because that simply doesn’t work. It’s about understanding the complexity of nature and animal behaviour, and the role – often negative – humans end up playing.

To go in-depth on feeding – from causes, to impact to solutions, I reached out to Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer of the BC SPCA, who is also a professor at University of British Columbia. Dr. Dubois has an impressive background on the subjects of wildlife, ethics, humane treatment of animals in numerous sectors, and, of course, the impact of feeding wildlife.

This week’s episode art provided by Christiane Cottin (@nanididada on Instagram), who originally submitted the photo to this year’s BC SPCA’s Wildlife-In-Focus Photo Contest. Check out more entries at

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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