Is it always wrong to feed wild animals?

I know there are certain regulations in wildlife parks that you shouldn’t feed the animals, because they might depend on humans, get aggressive, etc…

but does this apply in all circumstances?

what about just the random squirrel on the side of the road? or the birds in your backyard?

i’m a bit torn on the issue. it’s not necessarily a sin, but I now we’re supposed to follow civil laws, rules and regulations whenever possible

I just don’t know how far it extends. there are animal activists that will say that you should never give animals anything and make a huge deal out of it. but there are examples in the bible and lives of saints where they gave leftover food to wildlife etC…

Well feeding wild animals encourages them to come into areas where they would not necessarily come. Feeding birds actually encourages rats and other rodents to populate the area since there is often leftover food sitting there for the taking.

This is the first time I ever heard of an implied moral issue with bird feeders. We routinely put out feeders and suet holders for birds during the New England Winter. What we choose to do in our own yard regarding birds would seem to be a very different thing from encouraging wild animals into residential areas. Rats? Actually, during the Winter the real problem is bears around here, which is why we take the feeders in at night.

I guess I just don’t get why the presence of animals is such a bad thing around humans, besides danger. but if they’re being fed, they’re les likely to be dangerous

There is no issue of morality here unless you are preventing the natural conditions of a wild animals’ life. We had a man in the neighborhood who left out raw chicken for hawks on his deck. They became dependent on this food, and when he went on vacation they went after the neighborhood cats.
Not very smart on his part. A few pictures on his camera, and then he was done with this little enterprise.
Sinful? :shrug: In this case, really harmful to wildlife.
Can you feed the birds and squirrels. yes. Of course you can.
You see sin in everything.
This week has been a bad one for you.
Go see that Spiritual Director. Tell him EVERYTHING. Maybe print out your dozen recent threads. Make it clear that you want real help, not advice from strangers.

I am asking myself if my answering these questions is not, perhaps, in your best interest ultimately.

SIgns asking us not to feed animals in a given area is addressing a specific issue that some civil authority is trying to address. We are exercising good citizenship to comply with the request. I suppose in an extreme case, we could be fined for disregarding the instruction.

But this is not a sin. We are violating some sort of civil ordinance designed to keep the peace.

In our own yards or in wild areas, one could feed a random squirrel or bird. Again there is no sin.

I once knew a couple who set out on the fence three buckets of oats every night because they loved to see the deer come to visit them and eat the oats. It was a family of deer. Needless to say, the deer were quite taken with this couple and happily trotted out each evening to collect their evening meal.

This nightly ritual that was not without a quaint charm, however, caused a growing herd to emerge eventually from the woods. This became a source of consternation to their neighbors who were bothered by the deer rummaging around their homes. One could come to recognize old-timers that had once appeared as youngsters in previous years.

These lackadaisical deer, after years, were quite habituated to receiving their regular meal and tended to become very ill-disposed when the couple was away. I do not think the couple was thinking with much forethought about what they would create by the time they left the area, which was after a span of years.

Unfortunately, the couple’s sojourn was long enough that they had established a very eclectic group of nightly visitors who viewed the couple as their benefactors. Collecting din-din at the fence seemed, from their behaviour, a much more genial and tasty enterprise than foraging for it. As this experiment came to its end and the couple sold their home, the significance of this very human activity was lost upon the deer. The four legged diners were not content to merely express gratitude for the many meals they had enjoyed – they were belligerent that the meal service was not going on in perpetuity but was being terminated by the very different human beings buying the house and not so interested in becoming caretakers a domesticated herd of deer.

This is not a story about sin but rather that even an absence of common sense and courtesy can create a situation that is disruptive to those who are acting (the couple, in this case) those who are directly affected (the nearby households) and even animals lacking intellect and will (the deer). Even in the absence of sin, there can be problems. Human actions can have consequences.

just wanted to clarify. I live in a province where environmental activists are very vocal about this sort of thing. I personally didn’t really think much of it until then

  1. In my town there are notices not to feed the birds in town as they have been swooping on people, fouling the place etc. This is a good policy.

  2. In most countryside places it is a good policy to leave the wildlife to find its own food because of the many ecological pressures these days. We have to let God provide the survival or otherwise of species in the light of those pressures that are on them. As individuals we are free to join a well-thought out conservation programme as a hobby or career.

  3. What you do in your garden is your affair (subject to laws, bylaws, regulations, deeds, covenants etc) but courtesy to the wildlife themselves calls on you not to create a situation like the one Don Ruggero recounts like the herd of deer. If sparrows have been getting a few nuts or crumbs from suburban bird tables (where rats and bears aren’t prevalent) from time immemorial, that is a different matter to some extent though not in principle. Here sparrows were almost wiped out but it wasn’t due to people stopping putting food out for them. It’s particularly good for example to grow bushes with the right berries for them (and put nets over the berries that are for us!)

  4. None of the goings-on in the lives of persons in Scripture or of saints contradicts this. They had a different society and a different ecology then.

  5. The couple that Don Ruggero describes sinned. We shouldn’t go that way! Also to encourage the birds in town to cause a nuisance when authorities have been thoughtful enough to ask us not to, would be a sin.

In para 4 I mean a different society in some practical terms, not morally or spiritually. History always brings changes, though those in some parts of the world in the last 80 years and even more the last 40 years, may have been the most rapid that had occurred for some thousands of years.

I live in a rural area in WI, near farmland and woods.

We get different wildlife coming into our yard at night. The tenants used to feed the birds here, but were asked by the landlords not to do it anymore, due to mice being attracted to the bird seed.

Also, if you don’t have the time and aptitude to join a well-thought out conservation programme as a hobby or career or there are higher priorities pressing, you have to not try to be the universe in your individual self. You and I have to live our own little lives in our own little corner and leave the world to it (though praying, and when I can’t grasp what to pray I just string Our Fathers together). Scary!

In previous times society was (often, not always) more coherent and people were closer, even hermits. Now it’s becoming like an unset jelly to show us to trust God. History goes through those phases sometimes. Scary!

Birds and squirrels are not that much of a problem. Bears and wolves, however, will attack humans under certain circumstances. One if those circumstances is having been fed.

We have bears near us. Someone was feeding a bear, and someone else was killed by the bear. They are only less dangerous if fed as long as they are being fed–if the feeding stops, they become way more dangerous!

I didn’t say it was a sin. But yes, rats and mice can be a problem because birdseed often falls to the ground. Some apartments where I have lived have banned people from having bird feeders just because of this problem.

So I get to feed birds, and my cat, at the same time…COOL :thumbsup:

Let’s turn this around a bit.

For example, there are a lot of organized efforts to reintroduce the Eastern Bluebird to different areas. People hang nestboxes. I put one in my yard but was not successful in attracting bluebirds.

In this case, people are improving the habitat and working to restore the native ecology.

This wouldn’t be immoral, would it?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.