Regardless of motivation, feeding wildlife is a bad idea.

Many of those who set food out for wild animals do so with the intention of “helping” creatures during a season of scarcity. Others do so to lure wildlife to their homes or camera lenses so they can enjoy watching them, and perhaps even profit from the photographs. A handful of hunters and outfitters legally use food as bait to bring black bears into rifle range.

Feeding animals frequently leads to their death.

Those who scatter a bale of hay for mule deer are similar to the trophy hunter who squeezes the trigger in search of a bearskin rug. Rapid transitions to unfamiliar or out-of-season foods can cause acidosis and enterotoximia in ungulates.

In Teton County, feeding deer is illegal, while black bear baiting is not.

Several incidents of feeding foxes in Grand Teton National Park led to the demise of a fox dubbed M15.

In a stunning report obtained this week, a woman who lives north of town has been documented feeding all manner of animals from her yard in Solitude subdivision, including grizzly bears. One person can undo the thousands of people doing the right thing and working to keep human foods away from bears.

Our state needs stronger legislation to hold accountable those who feed critters on both private property and public lands.

The abundant wildlife that freely roams the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is in large part what makes this place so special, and so different from many other resort towns.

Individual responsibility and action is crucial to keeping wildlife wild and thriving: Don’t feed animals. Period. Slow down and appreciate the landscape, keeping a watchful eye behind the wheel for wildlife. Keep your distance from wild animals so as to not stress them or habituate them to people.

Government regulation and enforcement of existing law is necessary if we are to protect wildlife from human harm.

The beloved grizzly clan of 399 and cubs could be the next examples of “a fed bear is a dead bear” if we don’t act now to hold each other responsible for our actions.

By the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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