The Dangers of Bringing Wildlife Closer to Our Roadsides

Is Tossing Something Biodegradable Out of a Car Window Harmless?

We have all heard about the dangers of littering; leaving plastic, paper and other trash behind is bad for the environment and dangerous to wildlife. But what about something biodegradable like an apple core or banana peel?

We’ve all done it – tossed an apple core out the window, into the green edge along a roadway, thinking it was a good thing to decompose in nature and potentially provide food for some critter. You probably thought it was safe, that it wouldn’t have a bad effect on the environment and might even feed something.

While something as simple as an apple core or other food remnant will eventually degrade and won’t necessarily have an ill-effect on the environment, it can have an impact on wildlife.  A visit to Teatown’s animal ambassadors, many of whom are birds of prey, illustrates something that many of them have in common: they were hit by cars and are unable to survive in the wild.

You might be thinking “birds of prey don’t eat apple cores!” and you are correct about that; however, their prey do. Rodents and other mammals will often venture to roadsides to eat that seemingly harmless piece of food and be hit themselves, which brings scavengers, such as opossums or vultures, close to the road and to danger. Birds of prey spot rodents along the roadside and, unaware of the dangers, swoop down to catch their next meal and as a result get hit. I am often asked why so many birds of prey are hit by cars. While I will never know how it happened exactly, I do know that animals do not understand vehicles.

Though human-dumped food is not always the reason animals are near roads, it can be a contributing factor. Let’s help them out by not giving them a potential food source so close to danger- please always dispose of your trash properly.

About Lisa Kelly

Having grown up exploring nature with her grandparents, it was no surprise that Lisa ended up working with animals. She has been at Teatown taking care of the animals for 10 years, and a wildlife rehabilitator for 5 years. At any given time, Lisa is caring for 30-40 animals including birds of prey, turtles, snakes, bunnies, spiders, opossums and more.

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