The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife discourages people from feeding wild animals in Ohio, but there is no regulation against feeding wild animals.
People are discouraged from feeding wild animals because it can lead to issues with the animals. In extreme scenarios, wild animals who have lost their fear of humans and become nuisances to public safety are removed from parks.
This hasn’t stopped people from showing up in city parks to feed wild animals snacks. Last May, the Record-Herald reported that people had been showing up at Eyman Park in Washington Court House and feeding peanuts to the squirrels. Human food is not generally safe for wild animals, according to ODNR.
As wild animals lose their fear of humans, issues arise between the wild animals and the people who come to visit the parks, said John Coffman, state wildlife officer for the Division of Wildlife in District One.
“Lots of people get enjoyment out of the squirrels, feeding them, so there’s nothing per se that’s wrong. There’s just issues that come along if you feed animals. You’re definitely going to get that animal associated with humans, you’re definitely going to get that animal thinking you’re bringing them snacks and it might cause issues,” said Coffman.
The wild animals may approach people and take their food, thinking the person brought it for them to eat.
“The person who is not there to feed the animals, now the animal associates food with them. They’re going to steal stuff off the picnic table and off the bench, so, there’s no regulation against it, especially here in Washington Court House at Eyman Park, but there are issues of those animals getting used to humans,” said Coffman.
Feeding the squirrels can cause a lot of excrement to build up in the park, making it unsanitary for families with small children, as squirrel excrement contains pathogens that may cause flu-like illnesses and diseases.
ODNR officials recommend enjoying wildlife from afar.
To see a video with John Coffman, look for this article online at www.recordherald.com, check the Record-Herald’s YouTube channel, or follow the Record-Herald on Twitter by searching for @recordherald.
Ashley may be contacted by phone at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter by searching for @ashbunton