State Says Don't Feed Wildlife

CHRISTOPHER CREEK

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The people at the Arizona Game and Fish Department have expressed concern about the number of people feeding the wildlife.

Recently AGFD provided information to share with the residents.

They have information from the Christopher Creek area about elk and other wildlife getting comfortable around humans. Well-intentioned residents feeding the animals generally cause this behavior.

AGFD said this is not in the best interest of wildlife and it often results in property damage and safety problems. People who feed elk and other wildlife are creating serious problems and sentencing the animal to death or removal.

Here are a few examples: In the late 1990s an infant boy was taken from his grandmother's living room by a coyote in Scottsdale. The coyote managed to drag the child out of his car seat, through the front door and half-way down the driveway before the child could be rescued. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that the grandmother had been feeding a group of coyotes, causing them to lose all fear of humans. As a result, many coyotes were captured and killed in the area and the one believed to be responsible for the mauling tested negative for rabies.

In the last three years there have been five bobcat attacks on people in Arizona. All five bobcats tested positive for rabies. Two of the five bobcat attacks occurred in Payson.

In 2002, a Sedona man was cornered and bitten by a javelina that he had been feeding for some time. This case reaffirms that the association with food once again conditioned a wild animal to lose his fear of humans, and that animal caused human injury.

According to Gila County Ordinance No. 01-1: "It is unlawful for any person to intentionally feed a bear or bears, or attract bears by intentionally, negligently or recklessly placing water, garbage, refuse, human or animal food, or edibles in a place that is physically accessible to bears. A violation of this section constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of not less than $500, nor more than $2,500., six months in jail, three years probation, and or any combination thereof."

Please be advised that a person may be in violation of this ordinance by feeding other wildlife and attracting bears at the same time.

So what about feeding elk? A few Christopher Creek residents know first-hand that elk and deer become aggressive, especially when they associate humans with food sources. An additional concern is that elk and deer are a favorite food source of mountain lions and mountain lions follow elk and deer herds. Furthermore, rodents benefit from the supplemental food set out for deer and elk. It is a cycle that often claims the life of many family pets, increases the risk of property damage, and jeopardizes public safety. The AGFD asks anyone feeding wildlife in Christopher Creek to reconsider their actions. After residents are made aware of the potential results of their actions, there are grounds for legal action against individuals who continue to encourage the animals with food.

Remember you are not doing the animals any favors. The animals can and will find food without handouts from humans. Many who feed wildlife end up "loving the animals to death".

We live in an area where we can enjoy the beauty of these animals, but we must remember they are wild, even if they seem to be friendly.

Happy Belated Birthday to Bob Cowell. He celebrated March 15, and I am sorry I missed it Bob.

Tuesday nights Ladies nine-ball winners are, first place Pat Bates; second place, Patty Boeshling; third place, Nancy Olson, Congratulations ladies.

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