It may be tempting to do it, but the conservation group The Land Between is urging people to think twice before feeding wildlife.

Despite the good some people think it does, the group says it can do significant damage to wildlife and the ecosystem as a whole. For example, they point to people feeding bread to deer.

“Unfortunately, feeding wildlife has numerous consequences including negatively impacting animals’ behaviour, health and ultimately, their survival,” the organization says. 

The organization says feeding animals could hurt their metabolism, and interfere with their ability to survive over the winter and by throwing off their specific diets, it could make them sick, or worse. In addition to the diet changes, people feeding deer causes them to lose their fear of humans and cause them to become reliant on, or expect, food from humans.

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Officials with The Land Between say this causes them to act aggressively towards humans and ends up becoming a road safety risk. It can also delay or entirely prevent deer migration, as well as increase the risk of transferring diseases. “Bread also changes their gut flora and can make them sick,” they continue.

It isn’t only the deer who suffer. When food is left out, it can attract small predators like raccoons and skunks. With seeds from non-native food now in animals’ digestive systems, feeding wild animals can also aid in the spread of disease.

The group suggests instead creating quality habitat for wildlife around your home rather than actively feeding them. This includes planting natural, non-invasive plants on your property, such as oak trees, native wildflowers and other native plants.

The Land Between is a conservation group that aims to protect the unique ecosystem of the Ontario Highlands that stretches from the Ottawa Valley to Parry Sound.

With files from Trevor Smith-Millar