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‘Wildlife should be wild’: Piles of produce prompt reminder from Rockwood Park staff

Officials in Saint John asking people to stop dumping food in Rockwood Park
WATCH: A large amount of produce was left at Rockwood Park in Saint John apparently for animals to eat. As Travis Fortnum reports, park staff says that may actually harm the wildlife.

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.”

Animals have been coming to eat from the discarded food.
Animals have been coming to eat from the discarded food. Travis Fortnum

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.

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“Typically you will see people leaving apples for deer,” Murphy says. “It is, I would say, a fairly common occurrence here in the park.”

Murphy says oranges are not good for the sensitive stomachs of deer.
Murphy says oranges are not good for the sensitive stomachs of deer. Travis Fortnum

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.

Murphy says it’s common for people to try to bait animals with human food.
Murphy says it’s common for people to try to bait animals with human food. Travis Fortnum

“Wildlife should be wild,” she says.

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“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.

Travis Fortnum
Travis Fortnum. Travis Fortnum

Murphy says they would not seek to punish those responsible regardless.

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“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.

Murphy says that while many think they’re helping the animals, they might actually be harming them.
Murphy says that while many think they’re helping the animals, they might actually be harming them. Travis Fortnum