one of the snowiest weeks imaginable in Arkansas behind us and a
few days of reasonably normal late winter weather predicted, this
seems a little late to mention feeding birds and other wildlife.
the fact is that for most of us who think in terms of hunting more
than we think about watching wildlife, the winding down of hunting
seasons is the beginning of our time to notice the need for supplementing
the food supply of wild things.
food supplies for birds and other wildlife that depend on seeds,
nuts and such that mature in fall are nearly exhausted just before
spring brings fresh buds to munch.
are those, mostly professional wildlife managers, who question whether
any supplementary feeding ought to be done. They argue that only
the weak and unfit creatures will fail to find food in the tough
times and that saving the weak or ill wild things may actually allow
unfit creatures to reproduce and weaken some species.
mankind destroys natural habitat in the name of progress, of course,
wild things must be tough and smart to adapt if they are to survive.
Natural disasters such as droughts and extremely cold winters have
occurred so many times that existing species have proven they can
deal with such. But mankind's extra pressure on wild things means
that mankind owes nature a helping hand.
all that in mind, it seems reasonable to put out a bit of food appropriate
for particular species. Nuts and grain are great for squirrels and
deer. Mixed seed for assorted birds is commercially available.
isn't difficult to find something to help the creatures we love.
And I don't see anything wrong with feeding wild things in order
to attract them into range of cameras and binoculars.
course, wild things may become dependent on human help at times,
and that may cause problems.
for instance, can become nuisances or even dangerous if attracted
to areas inhabited by people. Squirrels, raccoons and deer may cross
busy roads and be killed if supplemental feeding is done in some
places. Birds may get careless and fall prey to house cats if feeders
are not carefully situated.
a little caution is needed if supplemental feeding of wildlife is
to have a good effect.
that ought not to discourage people who want a chance to watch or
photograph birds and animals from using food for bait. Baiting certain
wildlife species, of course, is illegal during hunting season.
is a violation of federal regulations to hunt waterfowl over bait.
The rules are so complicated that even wildlife law-enforcement
officers can't explain them clearly to the average person.
duck season and goose season end, there is nothing wrong with putting
out a bit of grain to bring the birds close to viewing sites.
in mind, of course, that attracting really large numbers of any
species may result in the spread of disease and may tempt poachers
to take an out-of-season shot.
summary, wild things seldom need supplementary feeding except when
snow or ice covers the ground for several days. Those who choose
to feed wild things, even for their own selfish reasons, can help
the animals at such times.