Normally, wild animals tend to keep a distance from people, but when people feed and interact with them, they can lose their natural fear of humans and become vulnerable to a variety of problems. This is also why it may not be so easy to return animals from human care to the wild.
Marine mammals who are accustomed to being fed by people…
- spend unusual amounts of time near boats, have been struck by them, and cut by propellers.
- can learn to steal fish off fishing lines, ingesting monofilament line and hooks.
- have been fed inappropriate food such as poor quality/spoiled fish, beer, ice cream, or non-edible items.
- are at risk for encountering people who view them as nuisances. The National Marine Fisheries Service has reports of marine mammals who have been shot, fed explosives, or injured by other means.
There are also risks for humans who attempt to interact with wild marine mammals.
- Animals who feel threatened are capable of aggression.
- Animals who become moochers can get pushy and aggressive when they don’t get the handouts they have come to expect.
It is against the law to feed or harass wild dolphins. Spread the word to others.