Letter to the editor: Stay out of nature’s way

Don Ross

During visits to neighborhood friends’ houses, I have noticed hummingbird and other bird feeders on decks and salt blocks in backyards. The question arises as to whether this is for the benefit of the animals or the owners. It turns out there is usually a negative impact on the animals just so the human owners can enjoy a little more of their view.

When a hummingbird feeder is present, a bear is also attracted. When the bears get close enough to humans or contact is made, the bear ends up getting euthanized. Likewise, when a salt lick is put out, there may be some short-term mineral benefit for animals in the spring, but this quickly becomes an attraction for all sorts of animal activity, bringing the bears and moose and others too close to humans. The outcome is rarely to the benefit of the animals.

I see these attracters as a selfish attempt to enjoy our nature a little more. If we plant the right flowers, hummingbirds will show up without attracting bears. Birds have been surviving here without our help for a few thousand years. Likewise with the salt licks — the animals do just fine without them.

The worst offenders, of course, are the ones that directly provide treats to our foxes. One of the families in my neighborhood brags about how many foxes hang around their property. Then you see why: They are feeding the foxes human food. 

All of this is unnecessary. Take a hike or a walk, and you’ll see plenty of nature. Plant flowers, and you’ll have beauty and food for bees and hummingbirds. And perhaps we’ll see a little less animal euthanasia if we stay out of nature’s way.

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