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Feeding of wildlife occurs in the context of research, wildlife management, tourism and in opportunistic ways. A review of examples shows that although feeding is often motivated by good intentions, it can lead to problems of public safety and conservation and be detrimental to the welfare of the animals. Examples from British Columbia illustrate the problems (nuisance animal activity, public safety risk) and consequences (culling, translocation) that often arise from uncontrolled feeding. Three features of wildlife feeding can be distinguished: the feasibility of control, the effects on conservation and the effects on animal welfare. An evaluative framework incorporating these three features was applied to examples of feeding from the literature. The cases of feeding for research and management purposes were generally found to be acceptable, while cases of feeding for tourism or opportunistic feeding were generally unacceptable. The framework should allow managers and policy-makers to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable forms of wildlife feeding as a basis for policy, public education and enforcement. Many harmful forms of wildlife feeding seem unlikely to change until they come to be seen as socially unacceptable.


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