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When people come across wild animals, often the immediate response is to get close enough for a photo. This often involves luring the animal with food. While this may seem harmless, it can actually be quite dangerous for everyone involved and even lead to the animal’s death. It disrupts the animal’s natural fear response around humans, which may cause future harm by leading them to interact with humans again. These animals are often deemed “a danger to humans” and can be harmed while seeking out food or eating food that isn’t good for them. Thus, they are often euthanized.
Recently, a fox in Jackson, Wyoming was euthanized after becoming habituated to humans. The fox had been monitored by a research study since 2018 and was known as 15M. A resident recounted how the week before 15M was euthanized, “a group of men modeled and photographed a stylized shoot with fur and guns about 20 feet away from [her.]” They used food to lure the fox for photos and one of them said to the fox: “you better do what I tell you or I’ll take out my gun and shoot you.”
The U.S. Park Service needs to better enforce these rules and educate people about the dangers of feeding wild animals so that more innocent animals aren’t killed. Even when people do interact with wildlife in a way that encourages habituation, it’s worth looking into sanctuaries that may be able to take these animals in rather than just euthanizing them. For example, a mother bear and her cub were recently relocated to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas rather than being euthanized after becoming too comfortable around humans. The transition has been successful and they are happily living in their new home.
Sign this petition to tell U.S. park service authorities to send human-habituated wild animals to reputable sanctuaries instead of euthanizing them!
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