NSU’s Fort Lauderdale campus is not only home to students but a variety of wildlife, too. Feeding the campus wildlife has become an ongoing problem. The animals no longer hide from NSU students and faculty in the campus foliage, but they forego their natural instinct by getting close and personal to anyone they cross paths with. This problem could not only potentially harm the health of students but the health of the animals as well.
Students quickly fall in love with the cute, feral cats found around campus. Then students start sneaking food to the cats in attempt to coax them into a friendship. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website, feral cats, like the ones roaming campus, can spread diseases through their defecating. Feeding the cats will only make them feel more at home, and I am not just talking about them finding a cozy place to sleep. The cats can also cause some serious damage to NSU’s beautiful landscaping. The relationship between man and animal has been blurred.
Now the animals expect food from students. Last month, I was eating dinner outside Flight Deck when a duck decided to join me for dinner. The duck would pace back and forth under the table. It then stood a foot away from me and stared at me for thirty minutes, waiting for me to give it some of my salad. This duck had been conditioned to know that humans bring food as a result to campus feeding. Granted, ducks are not considered dangerous animals, but they are not pets.
Because of the “compassion” of a few students, the animals are no longer fearful to approach other students and faculty members on campus. They have invaded residential areas and brought the diseases that they carry with them. The United States Department of Agriculture claims that, “Feeding leads to public health concerns. Too many animals in one place increases the chance of disease transmission to people and among other wildlife.” More and more animal species will now come to campus in search of food. Animals will become aggressive as they compete for food. The feeding needs to stop before it escalates out of control.
Those that feed the animals are not only violating campus policy but potentially harming the animals. The policy was put in place for a reason. Some of the chemicals in certain foods, like bread, can cause deformities and fatal malnourishment. According to the animal advocate organization PAWS, “Most wild animals are opportunistic and will concentrate on the easiest food source available.” This means that these animals will concentrate their diets on the harmful food that is handed to them on campus and will no longer hunt for their own food. Animals may also begin to confuse trash with food and consume someone’s garbage from lunch.
When students comply with the campus’ animal feeding policy, they are not only protecting their health but the health of the animal neighbors that they love. It is time to stop feeding the campus animals, something that should not have even started in the first place. Next time you come across one of the beautiful members of NSU’s wildlife community please resist the urge to share your lunch. Some self-restraint can keep the campus clean and save an animal’s life.