Wildlife at Risk
Most people who visit the outdoors believe that they know how to respect and protect the creatures who live there — but the actions they exhibit sometimes undercut their good intentions. For example, some visitors think that tossing food scraps into the woods will benefit animals. In fact, the effects are usually just the opposite. Animals that learn to associate humans with food lose their innate wariness and may be exposed to dangerous situations. They are also healthier when they stick to the diets they evolved with instead of learning to rely on non-native foods.
Even approaching wildlife too closely can quickly lead to unintended and damaging consequences. At best, it adds unnecessary stress for the animal, perhaps causing it to flee and burn extra calories. At worst, wildlife may shift from a flight instinct to the impulse to fight an intruder. From a charging elk, a coiled rattlesnake or a protective mother bear, animals can injure and even kill humans that get too close.