Feeding affects wildlife

We encourage all visitors to Prospect Park not  to feed the waterfowl. We acknowledge there are many reasons, cultural and otherwise, why people love to feed the waterfowl: it is an innate desire to want to bond with and/or otherwise show care for the birds. But what most people don't realize is that there are many reasons why doing so actually poses great danger and risk to these animals.  Thankfully, there are so many other wonderful ways to positively interact with the ducks, geese and swans.   Hence, it is our view that at Prospect Park, the costs far outweigh the benefits. 

WILD often meets individuals feeding moldy bread to Prospect's Park waterfowl

Foremost, human food is detrimental to the health of the waterfowl and causes ailments and nutritional deficiencies. Feeding encourages competition amongst the numerous species that may inhabit the area. Additionally, if fed, the birds can become tolerant and conditioned to the presence of humans, which can serve as a threat to their well-being when encountering societal dangers such as traffic or mal-intentioned humans. Furthermore, it is theorized that feeding discourages or delays migration.

The notion that waterfowl cannot survive without human intervention is false
. Ducks and geese have survived for thousands of years without food handouts and today many species of waterfowl are thriving. Please enjoy our local waterfowl but view them from a distance and respect their wildness. By doing so, you will provide them with their best chance for survival.

Left on their own, ducks and geese will occupy areas that provide sufficient natural food. When local resources are low or depleted, they will innately move to new locations.


1.  Feeding can cause waterfowl to lose their natural fear of humans
For many wild animals, survival is contingent upon maintaining a healthy fear of humans. Feeding waterfowl can quickly cause them to lose their instinctive sense of fear. While the provider of food may have the best of intentions, the wildlife still have to survive in a world filled with hazards. On an urban landscape full of dogs, cats, cars and people, the duck or goose that maintains its innate wildness ultimately has the best chance for survival.

2.  Feeding waterfowl can lead to dietary and nutritional problems for the birds
The age-old practice of feeding ducks and geese stale bread, pastries, cookies and various other assorted types of junk food can cause significant health problems for these birds. Even if fresh, these highly processed foods provide little or no nutritional value and may actually contribute to malnutrition and starvation among waterfowl. Moldy foods can impact their health just as it does our own. Ducks and geese are far better off building their reserves by moving from location to location in search of a healthy natural diet than they are living on foods that we would never consider feeding to our children or our pets. 

3.  Feeding waterfowl may lead to overpopulation 
Overpopulation can create a variety of problems for waterfowl.  For example, it can breed competition between males. Oftentimes, gangs of aggressive males ( or drakes) may attack and severely injure female mallards.  Overpopulation can also cause a female to look elsewhere for safe nesting, often far away from a necessary water source.
4.  Feeding waterfowl can lead to disease among waterfowl populations
Food handouts often result in large numbers of birds competing for limited food supplies in small, concentrated areas. Unconsumed bread and other "human foods" remain on the ground as nothing more than unsightly litter. Such crowding and competition for food, combined with the stress of less nutritious food especially during  harsh weather, increases their susceptibility to life threatening diseases like avian cholera, duck plague and avian botulism. These diseases have the potential to kill off large numbers of waterfowlFinally waterfowl habituated to human handouts are more likely to take up residence and less likely to be successfully driven away from locations such as golf courses where they may not be welcomed by the human occupants. 
5.  Feeding waterfowl can lead to habitat degradation
Providing food can attract concentrations of waterfowl beyond what the natural ecosystem can support. Large concentrations of waterfowl can reduce water quality and de-vegetate natural areas. Concentrating large populations of waterfowl into small natural areas is not a sustainable strategy. As numbers increase, natural forage will decrease and the waterfowl will only become more dependent upon handouts.

From  http://articles.lovecanadageese.com/feedingcanadageese.html)

If your park has a NO FEEDING policy (indicated by signs posted throughout the park), for the sake of the geese, please DO NOT FEED THEM!  These are indications of intolerance toward waterfowl. Your feeding will only provoke authorities to initiate cruel treatment toward them. 
If your neighborhood begins to complain and discuss ways of getting rid of Canada geese, please DO NOT FEED THEM. Feeding them at this time will only provoke anger and possibly cause our beloved geese to suffer from cruel treatment or even death.

(note: Prospect Park is considered a "no feed" zone)

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