The dumping of numerous piles of produce in Saint John’s Rockwood Park has prompted staff to issue a reminder that human food is not good for wildlife.
“We understand it comes from a place of kindness,” says Rockwood Park Naturalist Emilie Murphy. “But it’s not necessarily doing the animals very much good.”
In the past week, two piles of expired vegetables have turned up in parking lots on the Rockwood Park grounds – a common place for nature lovers to try to bait animals.
“Typically you will see people leaving apples for deer,” Murphy says. “It is, I would say, a fairly common occurrence here in the park.”
These most recent occurrences are not the norm.
“Probably what happened is that they went to a dumpster from a business and took some of their expired produce.”
While many enjoy seeing the creatures up close and some even think leaving them food is helpful, Murphy says it can actually be harmful.
“Wildlife should be wild,” she says.
“In fact what it does is create sort of a false sense that there’s going to be food.”
Murphy explains that deer have especially sensitive stomachs, meaning oranges and other foreign foods can make them sick.
She says the feedings have also led to an increase in vehicular incidents.
When reached for comment, Saint John police told Global News that it would be up to park staff to clean up the mess.
Murphy says they would not seek to punish those responsible regardless.
“My biggest thing is to educate people, not necessarily to chastise them,” she says.
“I recognize that people love nature, I love nature too, I’m just hoping that people realize that you’re almost killing them with kindness by feeding them.”
Park staff have since cleaned up the boxes, with most of the food being cleaned up by animals.