Animal Studies Bibliography
Lott, Dale F. 1988. Feeding wild animals: The urge, the interaction, and the consequences. Anthrozoos 1: 255-257.
To examine why people feed wild animals, how the interaction goes, and what the consequences are, Lott used impromptu interviews with people at Mt. Evans (CO) and off-site. He also observed people feeding the mountain sheep on Mt. Evans. The two most often given reasons for feeding wild animals were to get the animal to come closer (to observe it or take a picture) or to increase self-esteem, based on the belief that animals can sense a trustworthy person and that it reflects well on oneself or others if an animal will eat out of one's hand. Other reasons given were to become a part of nature, to get the animal to perform some action, or to do something nice for the animal. The interaction involved was usually simple--the sheep approached the people as possible food sources, overcoming shyness enough to approach a car or outstretched hand. People held out food or called to the sheep to attract it. The results of this feeding are good for people but not good for the sheep. They were most often fed potato chips, peanuts, and cookies, none of which are good for them. Further, because the food offered was a point source (versus an area of grass to graze upon) a sheep could keep others from consuming it, and when groups of sheep were present for the feeding, usually only one animal got any food, and it excluded the others through dominance. The sheep being fed threatened or displaced other sheep trying to share the food, whereas this rarely happened when the animals were grazing. Thus human feeding increases aggression and stress among the sheep, decreasing the groups' stability. Thus although we normally consider such non-consumptive uses of wildlife as feeding and birdwatching to be not harmful to the animals, we should examine these actions more closely, especially since they are on the rise.