Well-meaning residents feeding wildlife at Jerry Ivey Park are unknowingly harming them and the pond.
The following are reasons not to feed wildlife:
- Wildlife may not learn to search for food on their own.
- Wildlife may lose fear of humans and potential predators, and are more likely to be consumed by predators.
- Wildlife are lured to environments that are unable to support them.
- Feces generated by overcrowding of waterfowl promotes excessive algae growth in the pond; leading to decreased oxygen levels, foul-smelling green and cloudy water, fish kills, and an overall decrease in water quality.
- Waterfowl may be reluctant to migrate and then struggle to survive as temperatures fall.
- Pond water can quickly become clogged with feces and spread disease.
- Handouts are typically low in essential nutrients and prevent wildlife from eating a balanced diet found in the wild; a poor diet can lead to disease and deformities.
- Moldy leftovers can cause a fatal lung infection that can kill an entire flock of waterfowl.
- Rats and other pests that can harbor diseases dangerous to humans and wildlife are attracted to handouts.
Rats have been sited in the park and handouts have likely contributed to and attracted the rats. New signage with reasons not to feed wildlife will be installed around the pond. Park Superintendent Rick Martin said, “Residents working together can help resolve the problem.”