Should You Provide Water for Wildlife?

Should You Provide Water for Wildlife?

Photo by Linda Campbell

Providing an artificial water source for wildlife in your yard may seem like the kind thing to do for local wildlife, but putting out water can cause more problems than it solves.

WildCare strongly recommends against putting out water for wildlife. Why?

  1. Stagnant water is a dangerous breeding ground for bacteria and disease, both of which spread easily between animals at a water source. Salmonellosis, botulism, giardia and other bacterial illnesses are deadly to animals, as are viruses like the Hemorrhagic Adenovirus in Deer which spreads incredibly easily at artificial water sources.
  2. An artificial water source attracts multiple animals, which can lead to aggression, both between animals of the same species and animals of different species. We see the effects of territorial disputes over artificial water and food sources every day in the Wildlife Hospital. The injuries and infections from aggressive encounters can be deadly to wildlife.
  3. The larger-than-normal aggregation of animals can also cause conflicts with humans, which rarely end well for the animals involved. You may find it pleasant to see deer, raccoons, skunks or other animals drinking from a water source in your yard, but your neighbors may be alarmed at the increase in animal activity. It is far too common for neighbors to hire trappers to eliminate what they see as an increase in “nuisance” wildlife, which is actually animals visiting a water or food source provided by a well-meaning person.

For these reasons, WildCare does not recommend putting out water for wildlife.

However, if you do choose to provide water in an extreme situation, the container MUST be emptied and refilled with fresh water daily, and must be bleached once a week with a 9:1 bleach solution (9 parts water, one part bleach), then rinsed and dried thoroughly before refilling, to prevent the spread of disease. Only putting water out for a short period will also minimize the risks.

Cover photo by Tory Kallman