Have you seen “Please Don’t Feed the Birds” signs like these? They seem to be popping up more and more along beaches and within our coastal communities. I’ll admit to being one of those people who cringes when folks are feeding french fries and bits of hamburger buns to nearby seagulls, even more so if it’s happening while we’re dining at a beach side cafe (Eeewwww). Seriously, I’m wincing just thinking about it!
Why? Because, when people feed shorebirds and waterfowl:
◊ Waterfowl can become concentrated in small urban environments that are not capable of supporting large flocks.
◊ Waterfowl may become malnourished and risks of disease increase.
◊ Birds can become nuisance animals at feeding sites and other areas where they congregate.
◊ Unnatural concentrations of waterfowl can cause overgrazing and erosion, which may be undesirable for other species.
◊ High concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria contribute to unsanitary conditions and to closures of beaches and shellfish beds
Source: The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM)
As a result of the detrimental effects that hand-feeding gulls, geese, ducks, and swans has on both the environment and the shorebirds/waterfowl, a law was passed in 2003 banning the feeding of wild waterfowl throughout the State of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island DEM a put together a wonderfully instructive brochure which addresses the problems associated with the feeding of our beach-going fine feathered friends: 5 REASONS WHY FEEDING WATERFOWL IS HARMFUL.
Here are a few more first-rate resources:
East Devon District Council (UK): Seagulls – Frequently Asked Questions
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation ~ Please Don’t Feed The Gulls Brochure.
Alliance for the Great Lakes ~ Beach Trash and Wildlife
“For most gulls it was not flying that matters, but eating.
For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.”
~ Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Have a great day at the beach!