Some of the reasons that it is not convenient and unnatural feeding wild animals are the following:
- The artificial food does not have the nutrients that wild animals need, as these are processed with high amounts of sugars and carbohydrates; altering their eating patterns, reproduction and aging since this affects their health as it produces malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, and consequent
- Wild animals require varied sources of food as part of their normal diet, because their bodies are adapted to extract the necessary energy from those, depending on the season. Human food makes them more sensitive to suffer digestive problems because they cannot process this type of foodstuff.
- Animals fed with human food get used to it; besides, their natural behavior is disturbed, thus losing their natural fear of humans and at the same time, increase their levels of aggression (become more aggressive with individuals of the same and / or different species and may attack or bite humans).
- Many animals have died on the roads while trying to find people to feed them or food residues on the highway.
- Wild animals like raccoons carry diseases such as rabies, distemper, Salmonella, Toxoplasmosis, Psitticosisandcoli that can be transmitted to humans or pets.
- When people provide food to animals and they no longer forage on their own, wild populations grow to unnatural levels, unbalancing the ecosystem food chain.
According to information provided by Varela (Com. Comm., July 2007) the practice of tourists and guides to feed iguanas in the Galapagos Islands caused that iguanas abandoned the feeding grounds and moved to sites where tourists placed food; this resulted in a decrease in the reproduction of iguanas.
In Costa Rica, there have been cases in La Fortuna de San Carlos, Santa Rosa and Playa Naranjo (Guanacaste) and Cahuita (Limón), where white-faced monkeys, among others, pilfered some food and damaged the belongings of tourists.
Specific researches on this issue show that the diet of wild animals, in this case raccoons, quality and quantity varies according to the season. In Manuel Antonio National Park the diet of raccoons (Procyon cancrivorus) was compared between the two seasons. Although the crabs were an available source of energy and the main source of protein for raccoons in both seasons, it was less during the dry season, when the consumption of other types of food such as fruits and foods remnants left by tourists increased.” (Carrillo, 2001).
Likewise with coatis whose diet depends on the variety of seasonal fruits available. For example, females require high amounts to breastfeed during the rainy season; meanwhile, young individuals require an increased supply of protein for development. According to studies by Sáenz (1994), coatis damage or destroy only a small proportion (1.5%) of seeds, which implies a necessary condition for seed dispersal, a function of great ecological value.
From a tourism perspective, biodiversity is the main source of income for ecological tourism or ecotourism, defined as “environmentally responsible form of tourism that consists of traveling or visiting relatively undisturbed natural areas to enjoy, appreciate and study their natural attractions (landscape, flora and fauna), as well as any cultural event (present and past) that can be found there, through a process that promotes conservation, has low environmental and cultural impact, and promotes an active and socio-economically beneficial involvement of local populations” (Ceballos Lascuráin, 1998).”
Source: Proposed project “Environmental Education to lessen the impact on dietary patterns of wild animals in the tourist region of Arenal (La Fortuna, San Carlos)” by APREFLOFAS- Maria Fernanda Rojas and Andrea Saborio, 2008