Berkeleyans advised: Please don’t feed the wildlife

By Jane Tierney

Alameda County Game Warden Roxanne Bowers (left) addressed concerned neighbors at the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association public meeting in North Berkeley Thursday evening on the subject of wildlife intrusion into urban areas, including Berkeley.

Neighbors have been especially on edge since the attack two weeks ago by a deer on a young woman walking her two dogs at Colusa and Capistrano Avenues.

Game Warden Bowers advised that the single most important preventive measure is to eliminate food sources for wild animals so they don’t become accustomed to coming to urban areas for food.

“Some people deliberately feed wildlife,” she said, which is prohibited. This can often be unintended as well, such as leaving pet food bowls on the back porch at night, which attract raccoons and skunks.

Deer are often attracted to unfenced roses and vegetable gardens, as well as fallen apples and other fruit, which litter yards and create the perfect habitat for otherwise wild animals. Spring is when female deer with young fawns are prevalent, which can prompt defensive and sometimes aggressive behavior by deer who have become used to unfettered access to food supplies and safe habitats in neighborhood backyards. Letting these habitats become established creates a generational history for wild animals which is difficult to stop.

Consistent and repeated “hazing” according to Bowers, is the only method to prevent and discontinue established urban habitats. This can be done by spraying wild animals with hoses, making noises or other disruptive behavior to discourage nesting by wildlife.

Warden Bowers noted that Berkeleyans are known for their love of animals and should be educated that “feeding wildlife is a death sentence for them, since animals threatening humans and domestic animals will eventually be captured and destroyed.”

Jane Tierney is Vice President of the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association.