One Thanksgiving years ago, my grandma tossed (or flung as my family reminds me) a turkey neck over her back porch railing thinking it would feed an animal. The act was out of the goodness of her heart and wouldn’t have mattered, except that she lived several stories up in a city apartment. The lucky creature to find the turkey neck was a man walking the ally who noted it in a conversation with my mortified uncle, who happened to be mayor at the time. My family laughed about this for years.
I think of my grandma every Thanksgiving when I prepare our turkey. I use the neck and giblets to make gravy. After this however, I throw the neck out in memory of grandma. One year it just laid there and decayed back to Earth; but most years it disappears. I wonder what eats it and hope it provides nourishment. Although it feels great to help wildlife, food isn’t always the best way.
Feeding mammals is a risky business and I often discourage folks from feeding anything except songbirds. When wildlife associates humans with food, it’s usually to the detriment of the animal. Even though it’s tempting to care for wildlife with food, a neighbor a few doors down might fear or dislike wildlife. When an animal approaches this neighbor expecting the same handout, it might result in a nuisance trapper or poisons. Unintentional feeding also takes place. Feeding pets outdoors, un-harvested fruits and vegetables and unsecured trash can draw unwanted critters. Bird feeders can be added to the list and are often frequented by mammals.
Keeping wildlife wild is of utmost importance. If you see a mammal that isn’t sick or injured send it on its way with loud sounds and big motions. Yell, wave your arms and throw something in the direction of the animal. Let it know that humans are not safe and remind it to always go away from humans. If the animal appears sick or injured then contact the Ohio Wildlife Center. They will respond to sick or injured wildlife in Dublin, free of charge. If you want to provide for wildlife, consider planting native shrubs and trees. It’s good to be reminded of the resiliency of wildlife too. They have incredible adaptations that allow them to live in Ohio conditions. Lastly, recognize the exceptions. Like me and the turkey neck, you’ll know when it’s time. You can call parks for more information or visit the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s website: http://ohiodnr.com/Default.aspx?tabid=5674.