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The raccoon is one of the twenty mammals living on Mount Royal and probably one of park visitors’ 'darling' animals. It is sometimes hard to resist the temptation to touch them or to feed them. But did you know that feeding raccoons leads to unfortunate consequences for both the animal and the safety of visitors, as well as for the conservation of the biodiversity of Mount Royal Park? Here are four good reasons not to feed those adorable creatures!
1. Feeding raccoons can generate a dependency on humans that is unhealthy and even dangerous.
Relying on humans to meet their nutritional needs, raccoons lose the reflex to find their food in natural environments. This creates generational issues as well. Female raccoons, who once taught their offspring to survive on a diet of worms, insects and plants, now teach them to get their food from humans. Raccoons then develop an unwholesome dependence on humans.
2. Feeding raccoons is harmful to their health.
Eating food that is both nutritionally inadequate and inconsistent with a natural diet is harmful to the health of raccoons. Remember that if junk food is not good for your health, it is not healthy for animals either! Sugary foods can even cause tooth decay and the loss of teeth in raccoons. Moreover, no longer having to search for their food generated the onset of obesity. Some raccoons now weigh up to 13 kg, which is twice the average of their peers. Such malnutrition leads to health issues and nutritional deficiencies.
3. Feeding raccoons can affect the safety of humans.
Feeding raccoons alters their lifestyle and encourages them not to be afraid of humans. Although they are cute and seem harmless, their dependence on humans for food can cause them to be aggressive and to attack people for food, which can be especially dangerous for small children. Raccoons may be carriers of rabies, scabies, internal and external parasites, distemper, leptospirosis, and other diseases. A bite or a scratch is sometimes enough to transmit these to humans and dogs.
4. Feeding raccoons fosters the overpopulation of animals in Mount Royal Park.
Normally, the limited availability of food in natural environments controls the number of animals of a same species. When food is plentiful and constantly provided by humans, raccoon populations grow. In greater numbers, raccoons plunder the natural resources available to other species on Mount Royal, endangering the stability of bird, amphibians and reptiles populations.
For all these reasons, Les amis de la montagne entreat you to admire Mount Royal’s wildlife without interfering with it. You’ll see that it is far more rewarding to observe an animal in its natural habitat than to encourage it to change its behaviour and lifestyle.
Would you like to know more about raccoons on Mount Royal? Watch to the interview with our biologist on Global News.