Fairfax Co. police urge residents to stop feeding local geese

WASHINGTON — While it may seem harmless to take a stroll through the park and feed the geese, Fairfax County police are warning residents against it.

Feeding the local Canada geese population food such as bread, corn, popcorn or pastries can actually harm the birds’ health, the Fairfax County Police Department said.

“Geese that become dependent on human-provided foods can suffer from malnourishment (and starvation in severe cases) as they fill up on empty calories instead of receiving proper nutrients provided by the environment,” police said in a blog post. “Geese also tend to lose their natural fear of humans and can become aggressive as a consequence of being fed.”

Feeding the geese and other waterfowl in the area also can cause problems for the environment, police said. Because feeding geese draws more of them to the area than the habitat normally would support, it can degrade water quality, erode soils, spread diseases among the geese and lead to overgrazing.

Police said it is a common misconception that local wildlife need human intervention to get enough to eat.

It is unlawful to place, distribute or allow the placement of food when it attracts wildlife to the point where it causes property damage, creates a public health concern or endangers any person or wildlife, police said.

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