Hi, folks. Who wouldn’t want a picture of their child with a deer at Yosemite or Sequoia? Or some other beautiful creature in any of our national or state parks. Isn’t this a warm and fuzzy, cozy cuddly scene right out of a child or parent’s fondest dreams?
Wildlife is wild. Park regulations and personnel tell you not to feed, touch, harass, or try to befriend wild creatures for good reason. No matter how “tame” or “friendly” they may seem, wild animals are motivated by food, protection, the safety of their offspring, or territory. A human who appears threatening, feeds an animal and thereby entices it to want more, gets between Mama and her younguns, or does anything that might be misinterpreted, is asking for trouble. Animals don’t think the way people do, and some people don’t think at all. We can’t know when a perfectly innocent gesture or act might upset a critter.
Close contact with people isn’t good for the animals either. Some of them get too accustomed to human attention (including food), and despite efforts to relocate them, become pests that eventually have to be put down.
About 40 years ago, a little boy fed some deer in the Wawona area of Yosemite, no doubt while his adoring parents took pictures. A deer gored the child, killing him. Other injuries have been caused by deer kicking people. They are quick, and their hooves as well as their antlers can do serious harm.
You might encounter bears or deer in Yosemite or Yellowstone, elk at Redwood, or the elusive and fascinating sidewinder rattlesnake in Death Valley. In Death Valley, you might be tempted to pick up a tarantula, approach burros, and of course feed the ravens and coyotes that frequent the resorts and camp and picnic areas. Don’t do it! These are not pets or zoo animals. Let wildlife be wild.