Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I left my office at about 9:00 last night.  To get to my car, I had to go down a stairway leading from one parking lot to the lower lot where I was parked.  As I approached this stairway, I saw two raccoons on the top stair, eating something.  The whole area was well-lit.  The raccoons did not go away as I approached.  They just looked at me for a bit and continued eating.  They may have growled at me, but they were grumbling and growling the whole time as they ate.

I yelled at them and stomped my feet, but they still did not move.  I was worried about rabies and did not want to get too close, but I needed to get past them.  Luckily, I was taking a copy of the Wall Street Journal home to read.  I folded it into a Milwall brick, giving me a decent foot-long club that I could use to swat them off if they attacked.  I cautiously edged around them, watching them closely and keeping the weapon between us.  They kept eating.

After I got past them, I saw that they were eating cat food.  There was a little pile of it.  I am sure that it was put there on purpose.  I do not know if the person intended to feed the feral cats that infest the campus, or if they intended to feed the raccoons.  Either way, their action was both stupid and morally wrong.

Feral cats are a nonnative invasive species that disrupt local ecosystems, slaughtering songbirds and small mammals.  They should be controlled and killed off.  Their existence causes a lot of real harm for almost no benefit.  Even if you care about the welfare of cats, and only cats, feeding them is stupid, because it just makes them reproduce, leaving you with more hungry animals than you started with.

Feeding wild animals is also bad and destructive.  It hurts them, as they lose their natural survival skills, and it has the potential to hurt the humans they come in contact with.  Somebody is probably going to have to kill those two raccoons.


Sister Y said...

What good are natural ecosystems?

Should we evaluate animals and ecosystems according to the benefit they provide for humans, or some kind of "good" they do for themselves?

I used to accept that it was wrong to give a coyote that wanders into my neighborhood a hot dog (for the reasons you articulate). And it annoys me that my neighbor leaves out cat food that attracts skunks. Now I'm no longer sure that a single coyote's pleasure in getting a hot dog is outweighed by the benefit to the "ecosystem" in forcing coyotes to hunt opossums and house cats instead. And what about the skunks' welfare? Not to mention feral cats.

Do you deny that animal welfare is a significant concern? Or is it only the welfare of humans that we care about promoting?

See my essay on the same topic here if you like - Judge Nature.

I came to your blog because I saw this comment of yours on Overcoming Bias from October. Lovely primitive hominid example.

Alleged Wisdom said...

Feeding wild animals harms them and it harms people. It is unambiguously bad no mater what your morals and values are. See here for an animal-lovers' organization explaining it in detail: