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Feeding wildlife

You are not allowed to feed wild animals or leave food out to attract wild animals on public or private property. These details are described in part 4 section 10 of the Animal Care and Control By-Law.

The by-law doesn’t apply to feeding songbirds. You can feed songbirds on your property if your bird feeder is above grade and kept in a sanitary condition.

Feeding wildlife can do more harm than good

  • When you feed wild animals it results in higher concentrations of wildlife species living closely together which can increase the potential of diseases spreading in wildlife populations.
  • When birds like pigeons, ducks and geese gather in large numbers they can get sick from the bacteria in leftover food or because of increased feces in the environment.
  • If your bird feeder isn’t maintained properly or you’re using poor quality bird feed, birds could die of illnesses such as salmonella, botulism, or other deadly bacterial infections.
  • When you feed wild animals food that aren’t part of their natural diet, they may not get the proper nutrients they need to stay healthy and can suffer from malnutrition or get sick. For example, ducks and geese naturally feed on vegetation and water insects. If their goslings and ducklings eat only bread and seeds, they don’t get all the nutrients they need and their growing bones can become permanently deformed.
  • When wild animals become dependent on poor quality artificial food sources, they can starve or lose their ability to search for food naturally.
  • When you feed wild animals it can cause them to invade neighbouring territories to fight over feeding grounds and physically harm each other.
  • Bird feeders may attract large flocks of non-native species such as sparrows, starlings, or feral pigeons which may compete with native bird species for food resources and habitat.
  • Prey animals such as deer, rabbits, and squirrels can become easy targets for predators if they continually visit a food source rather than moving around or naturally seeking cover.
  • Wildlife may cross busy roadways to get to a food source.
  • Raccoons, skunks, and squirrels typically live close to their food sources which may cause them to damage or live in neighbouring homes and properties.
  • Learn how to protect your home from wildlife.
  • When you feed wild animals they begin to view people as a food source, causing them to approach people for food.
  • Coyotes, foxes, and turkeys can become pushy and dangerous if they learn to approach people for food. When this happens people lose their tolerance for wildlife and pressure authorities to have animals permanently or lethally removed.
  • Feeding birds can attract rodents like rats and mice due to the spillage of seeds. If you have rodents on your property, stop feeding until the rodent issue is resolved.
  • An increase in rodent activity can attract larger predators like coyotes and foxes which can also prey on neighbourhood pets.

Tips to support wildlife

  • You can plant native flora to enhance your property and attract wildlife naturally without altering their behaviour.
  • You can adopt responsible bird feeding practices:
    • Reserve bird feeders for winter months
    • Ensure feeders are clean and tidy
    • Use a seed mix that attracts native songbirds
    • Bring feeders inside at night to discourage raccoons
    • Stop feeding if you are attracting rodents, foxes, or coyotes

Contact

This information was prepared by Mississauga Animal Services. To learn more, call 905-896-5858.