A recent video circulating on social media shows a person feeding a mule deer a chocolate coated cookie in Jackson. While it may be tempting to approach or feed wildlife especially during winter months, Teton County would like to remind the public that feeding wildlife can create many issues for both humans and animals. The County is encouraging the public to watch a recently produced educational video that highlights the dangers that can occur when wildlife receive food rewards.
In partnership with the Teton Conservation District, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Town of Jackson, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, along with local, non-governmental organizations including the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Teton County is releasing a video to assist locals and visitors in understanding the negative impacts of feeding wildlife.
The video, which is part of a public awareness campaign to decrease human-wildlife conflicts and bring attention to the negative impacts of wildlife feeding, outlines a few simple steps that homeowners, residents, and visitors can take to help minimize human-wildlife conflict.
- Don’t feed wildlife: there are many unintended consequences to feeding wildlife, and it violates the Teton County Land Development Regulations.
- Properly manage trash containers: make sure trash is locked and secured.
- Respect wildlife from a distance: bears should be viewed from 100 yards or more, and moose, elk, deer, and other wildlife from 25 yards or more.
The video, entitled “Minimizing Wildlife Conflict,” can be found on Teton County’s engagement site at https://publicinput.com/w3457 and will appear on social media.
Teton County Project Manager Chris Colligan says many people feed wildlife out of concern for wildlife’s well-being during harsh Wyoming winters, while others may unintentionally feed wildlife with food intended for livestock. Colligan says that feeding wildlife often has negative impacts on the health of animals.
“Ungulates are often unable to properly digest human foods,” Colligan said. “And drawing deer or moose to your yard has other unintended consequences, with the animals crossing roads or attracting predators. The best thing to do if you love wildlife is to let them live free from human interaction, to let them live wild.”
In some cases, unintended food rewards in neighborhoods, such as failing to properly secure trash containers, can result in wildlife being relocated or euthanized due to the potential dangers of human-wildlife conflict. Feeding wildlife also increases the likelihood that they will be hit by motor vehicles while crossing busy roads to access residences offering food rewards.
Teton County’s Land Development Regulations (LDRs) prohibit feeding wildlife, which includes human food, pet food, hay, forage product or supplement, grain, honey, seed or birdseed, salt or mineral licks, or other supplemental feed made available to wildlife. All of these items can increase the risk of human-wildlife conflicts, which may result in human, pet, and/or wildlife injury or death, and property destruction. There are exceptions for bird feeders, which must be made inaccessible to other wildlife species. Normal feeding of livestock and the practice of raising crops are exempt, but livestock feed should be secured to keep it inaccessible to wildlife.
The Town of Jackson Wildlife Feeding Ordinance also prohibits the feeding of wildlife and the planting of new ornamental fruit bearing trees, requires bird feeders to be kept out of reach of other wildlife, and stipulates that other attractants (beehives, pet food, and compost) shall be stored in bear-resistant containers, in buildings, or behind fencing.
The County rules pertaining to wildlife feeding can be found on page 205, Section 5.1.3 of the Teton County LDRs: https://jacksontetonplan.com/DocumentCenter/View/932/Teton-County-Land-Development-Regulations-PDF; and information from the Town of Jackson can be found by visiting their website at https://www.jacksonwy.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1147.
For more detailed information on being good stewards of our community, Teton County and the Town of Jackson recommend reviewing The Mountain Neighbor Handbook: A Local’s Guide to Stewardship in the Tetons, published by the Teton Conservation District in partnership with government agencies nonprofits. The handbook highlights threats to Jackson Hole’s unique ecosystem, including wildlife conflict, and provides information and best practices that aim to minimize those threats.
The Mountain Neighbor Handbook can be found by visiting https://www.mountainneighbor.org/ or at the Teton Conservation District Office located at 420 W Pearl Ave in Jackson.
“Teton County has some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in the United States and it’s a major part of what makes our area unique,” said Colligan. “We have a responsibility to preserve and protect that to ensure that future generations will also be able to experience what makes our area so special.”