Many homeowners put out squirrel feeders to attract them to their yards. It may seem like a harmless activity, but many states have laws and regulations in place that protect wildlife, including squirrels. So, what are the laws regarding feeding squirrels in Wisconsin?
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), homeowners can legally feed birds and small mammals, as long as it isn’t done with the purpose of hunting them. However, the law states that you must place the food in a feeding device or structure at least eight feet off the ground to prevent deer from accessing the food. And no more than 50 yards from the dwelling.
Wisconsin has 72 counties; unfortunately, the laws and regulations will vary depending on where you live. So it’s best to check the laws in your area. However, here’s what we found regarding the laws and regulations on feeding wildlife on private and public properties.
Is It Illegal to Feed Squirrels In Wisconsin?
No, as long as it is, it isn’t done to hunt them or train dogs. If you are caught feeding them for recreational purposes, you can face fines and other penalties.
On the other hand, feeding squirrels for non-recreational purposes is legal as long as you follow the guidelines set by the Wisconsin State Legislature:
- Use a feeding device that is placed at least 8 feet high so it’s not accessible to deer, elk, or bears.
- You must be the homeowner of the land.
- The feeding devices and structures are no more than 50 yards from the dwelling.
- You cannot feed the animals by hand or toss the feed on the ground.
Penalties for Violations
Fines and penalties will vary depending on the severity of the violation and whether or not it’s your first offense.
For example, first-time offenders will be asked to remove the device or offered suggestions on how to fix it to prevent other wildlife from accessing the food.
If you are caught feeding deer or elk in Wisconsin, it is considered a Class B misdemeanor. It can result in fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to 90 days.
Feeding other wildlife animals that result in nuisance or health hazards for your neighbors can result in a citation and fine of up to $500. In addition, if your wildlife feeding causes property damage or injuries to any person, it can result in additional charges and penalties.
Why These Laws Are In Place?
Feeding squirrels may seem harmless. However, the Wisconsin Legislature has implemented these laws for the following reasons.
Feeding squirrels can have a significant impact on the environment. When humans feed squirrels, they become dependent on humans and may stop foraging for natural food.
This can lead to overpopulation, which can cause damage to gardens, crops, and other natural habitats. Additionally, when squirrels become overpopulated, they can spread diseases to other animals, including humans.
Feeding squirrels poses health risks to people and other animals. Squirrels can carry diseases such as leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and tularemia.
These diseases can be transmitted to humans through contact with their saliva, urine, or feces.
In addition to the health risks, feeding squirrels can also lead to aggressive behavior. Squirrels that are fed regularly may become territorial and aggressive towards humans that they perceive as a threat to their food source.
Can You Feed Squirrels In Public In Wisconsin
While it is legal to feed squirrels in your backyard as long as you follow the rules. According to the USDA Wildlife Services, it’s best to avoid public feeding wildlife, such as squirrels, deer, coyotes, ducks, geese, raccoons, etc.
Feeding wildlife can lead to several issues, such as:
- Malnourishment or death of the animal from eating unhealthy food that is not their regular diet.
- This leads to the overpopulation of squirrels in one area.
- With the increase in population, it leads to more vehicle animal accidents.
- More complaints from homeowners regarding nuisance squirrels.
Alternatives to Feeding Squirrels
There are various alternatives to consider if you want to avoid attracting squirrels to your property or are worried about the legality of feeding them in Wisconsin.
Natural Food Sources
Squirrels are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects.
If you’re looking to provide food for squirrels without actually feeding them, consider planting trees and shrubs that produce nuts or fruits, such as oak, hickory, walnut, apple, and pear.
What To Do If Neighbors Are Feeding Squirrels
If your neighbors are feeding squirrels and causing damage to your property or becoming a nuisance, here are some things you can do.
Talk to Your Neighbors
The first step is to talk to your neighbors and explain the situation. Let them know how their actions affect you, and ask them to stop feeding the squirrels.
Be polite and respectful, and try to find a solution that works for both parties.
Contact Local Authorities
If talking to your neighbors doesn’t work. Contact your local animal control or wildlife agency to report the problem.
You can implement several deterrents to keep squirrels from entering your property. For example, you can use spicy spices as deterrents or install motion-activated sprinklers to scare them away.
Consider putting up barriers or covering your plants and garden with netting to protect them from squirrels.
Seek Legal Help
The last option is to seek legal help. A lawyer can advise you on your rights and options and help you take legal action if necessary.
Other Wild Animals It’s Illegal to Feed In Wisconsin
In addition to squirrels, there are other wild animals that you cannot legally feed in Wisconsin. These animals include:
- Endangered and threatened species
The list of animals you cannot feed is extensive, so check the Wisconsin Legislature website regarding feeding wild animals.
Feeding squirrels is not illegal as long as you follow the guidelines set by the state. However, feeding squirrels can cause several issues, including property damage, ecological damage, overpopulation, health risks, and attracting other wildlife.