A motorist in British Columbia recently had a close encounter with a pair of elk that demonstrates exactly why people should never feed wild animals. The woman had pulled over on the roadside to let a bull and cow pass in peace, but rather than walking by, the two animals approached her vehicle and the female stuck her head right through the window.
The bull doesn't get involved, but bugles loudly after the woman winds up her window to keep the cow out of her car. The incident, which you can watch below, was captured on camera and shared in Instagram by Caters News.
The driver wasn't at fault, but it appears that the two animals had become food conditioned after being fed by other visitors. If people feed wildlife, or leave food within easy reach, animals come to associate people and their settlements with an easy meal, and will seek them out again in future. This greatly increases the chances of a close encounter with humans, which can be dangerous for all involved.
Wild animals are unpredictable, and can become aggressive if they are startled or believe they, their young, or their source of food is being threatened. This can result in a person being injured, and animals that attack humans may be euthanized for public safety. In the words of the Missouri Department of Conservation, a fed bear is a dead bear.
A photo posted by on
The National Park Service explains that human foods aren't good for wild animals either. Not only can they interfere with their digestive systems, if an animal starts feeding on snacks from well-meaning tourists, it may stop hunting or foraging for the items it would eat naturally. In the worst cases, a food conditioned animal may even starve if it can no longer access food from people.
Instead, it's best to stick to the principles of leave no trace. Don't give food to animals, make sure you secure anything that might smell appealing, and clean up carefully after yourself.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).