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Friday, December 9, 2022

Opinion

Students should not feed the squirrels on campus


a squirrel

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Feeding the squirrels at UH does more harm than good as it desensitizes them to humans and could lead them to act in bold and dangerous ways.

The United States Department of Agriculture page states, “Animals accustomed to people often lose their fear of people and can become aggressive.” Even if students believe these squirrels are gentle and friendly, there is a potential for any wild animal to harm students.

The USDA also states that feeding animals in certain areas, such as airports, may cause “flight delays, damage to aircraft, and loss of human life.” Additionally, if squirrels are fed near roads, the animals could also be injured by vehicles.

Not only can the practice of feeding squirrels result in physical harm, but it may spread serious diseases. 

Orkin, a pest control service, notes the multitude of illnesses spread by direct contact with these animals include tularemia, typhus, plague and ringworm. Pests such as ticks and fleas on squirrels may infest homes and introduce Lyme Disease to humans and house pets.

Although not all encounters with the creatures result in infection, some interactions may be fatal. A lot of the illnesses transferred from squirrels can start off similarly to flu symptoms and then become deadly when left untreated.  

It is essential that students practice caution when interacting with these animals as their life could depend on them.

However, the squirrels’ lives depend on avoiding this practice, too.

Even though many believe they are helping squirrels by providing necessary food, human food may be detrimental to this animal’s health and cause negative effects.

The USDA explains wild animals require specific diets and if the needs are not met, they can die from malnourishment. The pizza and fries from Moody Towers Dining Commons may not nourish these critters as much as you think.

Wild animals have vastly different diets and lifestyles than humans, so students should think twice before exposing squirrels to potentially unhealthy foods.

Although feeding squirrels may appeal to animal lovers on campus, this practice endangers both animals and humans. 

Students must consider the physical harm or fatal sickness they may suffer from interacting with these wild animals and the negative impact human food has on squirrels.

It is much more respectful and safe for students to enjoy the squirrels without direct interaction to ensure that both parties do not endanger the other.

Gina Grenyo is a freshman Global Hospitality Leadership major who can be reached at [email protected]

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