Since leaving Boulder a few weeks ago, we have been asked numerous times a common question: "Is it really that big of a deal if I toss a banana peel out the car window, or leave my orange peels under a rock while on a hike?" As an organization, we strongly recommend avoiding these behaviors. Besides the danger of wildlife coming too close to the road or highway in search of food, here are more reasons to keep human food away from animals highlighted in our FAQ section of the website:
Most items though of as biodegradable, such as apples and apple cores, orange peels, banana peels, nuts, candy, etc., aren't native to most natural environments, and generally aren’t thought of as suitable food for wildlife. Anything that we carry into the woods should come out of the woods with us. Otherwise it's simply trash. One apple core will not completely disrupt the local ecosystem, but litter is litter.
The biggest problem with improperly disposing of food waste, e.g. tossing apple cores into the woods, it that it is ultimately harmful to wildlife. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters their natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers. News headlines are often made when wildlife is attracted to human food. Bears, more than any other animal, get the most press for tearing into tents, raiding food caches, coolers and cars in search of a meal. Generally, however, campers and hikers have to deal with less threatening, but often more annoying, rodents, raccoons, birds, etc., looking for a handout. These animals are a nuisance and can be vectors for disease, not to mention that their dependence on human food is a detriment to their own well being. Human foods are harmful to wildlife because animals would otherwise forage and eat a nutritious diet derived from their natural environment.
Ask yourself this question: Would this [insert biodegradable item] be here if I weren’t?
Pack it in, Pack it out...Kate & Tracy