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Feeding of wildlife: How effective are the ‘Keep Wildlife Wild’ signs in Tasmania's National Parks?


  • Stephen A. Mallick,

  • Michael M. Driessen

Stephen A. Mallick and Michael M. Driessen are currently with the Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (134 Macquarie Street, Hobart, 7001, Tasmania, Australia). The project is part of the ongoing management of fauna in Tasmania's National Parks and Wilderness World Heritage Area.


Summary  We investigated attitudes of the visiting public to feeding wildlife and the effectiveness of the ‘Keep Wildlife Wild’ signs in Tasmania's National Parks. We surveyed visitors to three visitor nodes in two National Parks for their opinions regarding the feeding of wildlife. Participants were asked whether they had seen a ‘Keep Wildlife Wild’ sign, and the role played by the sign in determining their opinions. A total of 118 visitors were interviewed. The majority of respondents (92.2%) were against feeding wildlife. Only 3.5% of respondents were in favour of feeding wildlife, while 4.3% had no opinion on the subject. The most commonly cited reason against feeding wildlife was that it caused harm to the animal. The majority of respondents (69.6%) had sighted a ‘Keep Wildlife Wild’ sign posted in Tasmania's National Parks since 1996, 84.6% of which said that the sign had reinforced a pre-existing opinion against feeding. Only 3.9% of respondents who had seen the sign said that the sign had formed their opinion against feeding. We also observed a total of 68 people interacting with wildlife while they were eating lunch. A total of 70 interactions between visitors (n = 68) and wildlife were recorded. Thirty-seven (52.9%) of these interactions involved feeding an animal, although this feeding activity was carried out by only five people (7.4% of total). Numerous examples of inadvertent feeding were also observed in which Black Currawongs (Strepera fuliginosa) scavenged for food scraps once visitors had left.