Wildlife Feeding Strictly Prohibited sign. Stephen C Foster State Park campground. Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, USA. Feeding wildlife can lead to a number of serious problems. Animals accustomed to people often lose their fear of people and can become aggressive. © Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from

Throughout the Stephen C Foster campground in the Okefenokee Swamp, there are signs warning against the feeding of wildlife. These warnings are no joke. It is now commonly known (hopefully) the dangers of pitching handouts to wildlife. Feeding of bears and alligators causes them to associate humans with food, and that can lead to future adversarial contacts. Typically, it is the animal that eventually loses out. They have to be drugged and relocated, or even killed.

American Alligator; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. May 4, 2020. © iNaturalist observation:

The Savannah River Ecology Lab writes, “Don’t feed alligators. This is a most important rule as feeding alligators threatens the safety of both people and animals. Providing food for these wild animals (that are naturally afraid of humans) not only makes them bolder and encourages them to seek out people, it also alters their natural diet in an unhealthy way. Feeding alligators trains them to associate humans with foods. Feeding alligators is punishable by law with fines jail time.”

For all of those reasons, I take seriously the admonition to not feed the Okefenokee wildlife… except for a couple of species. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t keep myself from feeding the mosquitoes and horseflies! No amount of repellent seems to keep these little bloodsucking critters from feeding on your flesh if you visit the Okefenokee in late spring and summer.

Horse Fly, Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. May 5, 2020. ©

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