Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

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By an edhat reader

This is an odd question, but does anyone know why people leave food scraps out on their lawn? Specifically watermelon rinds?

I sometimes see birds picking at it, if that's the purpose, but it also attracts rats and other unsavory critters I wouldn't want that close to my house. 

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a-1659861851 Aug 07, 2022 01:44 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Wildlife Care Network:
Never intentionally feed a wild animal! Feeding wildlife increases human encounters, which endangers animals and harms the ecosystem.

This is true.

Santa Barbara City Animal Control and Santa Barbara County Animal Control do NOT trap wildlife and will NOT relocate wild animals.
Relocation can be deadly for the animals and can move any existent illness into other areas. This is why we need to learn to co-exist.

a-1659861059 Aug 07, 2022 01:30 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

I'll also tout the best aid in town, Steve the Eraticator, who is an animal lover. He helped my folks seal up their crawl space re: a skunk and years later we had to kill the one rat in my attic space. He always solves the problem -- he saw the entry site within a minute and sealed it almost as fast. I love this man's work.

(805) 451-7287 https://www.yelp.com/biz/eraticators-santa-barbara
Make what you will of the bad reviews. He's held in high esteem. I worked in rescue and he is wonderful.

a-1659860675 Aug 07, 2022 01:24 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Second heading at SB Wildlife Care Network is "Tips for Living With..." and lists tips for each animal. It's good to familiarize yourself with this information:


a-1659860373 Aug 07, 2022 01:19 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

I'm embarrassed and occasionally guilty, it's an emotional battle, but I definitely fall on the side of reasons not to feed. I feed a couple of crows; pretty sure I'm now feeding their offspring. I put food into my backyard that would go in the trash -- scraps of cat food, chicken bones (yes, birds are cannibals). I never leave anything out after dark! I throw some veg & fruit scraps, like overripe oranges from my tree, into my leaf pile, and no animals come to it or feed from it. I wish they would.

I have beneficial insects but no snails, even when I water or it rains; that's because I have birds and wildlife in my friendly yard to eat them. I know that there are possums and skunks traversing my yard and neighborhood but I only hear or see them a few times a year. Same with raccoons. Of course I have water available! But not as regularly as I should, as I was injured this year.

I know well all the drawbacks of feeding wildlife. I will save lives by providing water.

Please please please read about co-existing with wildlife and why it's bad to provide food. The brochures from Nancy Callahan's WILDE (Wildlife Information Literature Data & Education) was superb; many local animal orgs used it. I'm trying to find their brochures on how to co-exist with wildlife.

I also have solar panels that feed my house, my laundry gray water feeds my front yard, and I have about 700 gallons of rainwater storage. Please consider doing your part. My solar is "free" through a power purchase agreement, and my water system was hundreds of dollars. If you can afford it, as most homeowners can, you can do SO MUCH GOOD.

Babycakes Aug 05, 2022 04:06 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

There definitely ARE raccoons still in my neighborhood. Last night I heard "klinkling" out in our backyard near the spa. I got my FatMAX "sunblazer" (not really the name....just what I call it) flashlight out and shined it near the table and there were three raccoons. Appeared to be a mama and a couple of babies munching away at the food we forgot to bring in after our Fiesta celebration. They were soooooo cute, but I'm smart enough to know that going near them for a closer look s NOT a good idea. Anyway, we were out a bag of chips, a couple tamales, a bit of tri-tip, but the biggest bummer is that they knocked over and broke my unopened 1.75 liter of Silver Patron. Next time I'm not going to listen to anyone without checking when they say they "cleaned everything up." Must have been the margaritas and Corona's talking. LOL!!!

a-1659861296 Aug 07, 2022 01:34 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Must've been! lol Sorry for your loss.
Given ANY opportunity, animals will take it. It Is NOT THEIR FAULT. That's why we don't feed them. They're doing what any hungry, or not hungry, animal would do -- humans too!

yin yang Aug 05, 2022 08:21 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

At least 24 states have avian influenza. Many millions of poultry meant for our food have been "culled" -- killed. Wild birds are of course also dying.
Lots more info:

a-1659636269 Aug 04, 2022 11:04 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

AVIAN INFLUENZA -- On July 19, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network announced an avian influenza that is spreading to this region and can be fatal to all manners of birds. Taking in feeders, stopping feeding wild birds, perhaps taking in water sources (I don't know how endemic it is yet) were recommended as precautions.

yin yang Aug 05, 2022 08:17 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Please note disease control measures if you bring a wild animal to the wildlife hospital.

"On July 14, 2022, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced the first detection of avian influenza H5N1 in California. The virus was detected in two Canada geese and one American white pelican in Colusa and Glenn Counties.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (also known as HPAI or bird flu) is a virus that is naturally spread among wild aquatic birds worldwide (such as ducks, geese, and shorebirds) and can infect domestic poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, and pheasants) as well as other bird and animal species. In early 2022, the Eurasian H5 strain of HPAI was detected in the United States.

While HPAI has not yet been detected in Santa Barbara or Ventura County, SBWCN is taking proactive measures to prevent the spread of the virus at their facility. These implemented protocols include isolated exam areas, increased personal protective equipment, quarantining high risk species, and various other protocols to ensure the health of all wild animal patients.

SBWCN is asking the public to:


Stop at the designated drop-off area in front of the SBWCN facility when dropping off an animal.

Please anticipate a possible wait time as staff is limited.

Unfortunately, any cardboard boxes or laundry (towels, blankets, etc.) brought in with an animal can not be returned. Containers made of non-porous material will need to be disinfected for 10 minutes prior to being returned.

Wear gloves and face masks and thoroughly wash hands if handling an animal can not be avoided.

Take down bird feeders and baths to prevent the spread of the virus.

Report any deceased birds to CDFW’s website.

Scroll down for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

yin yang Aug 05, 2022 08:13 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Thank you for this alert!
I'll ask ed to contact Wildlife Care Network so a public announcement is made here.
Very scary stuff.

letmego Aug 04, 2022 10:49 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Possibly critters are pulling them out of a backyard compost pile? I have a bin and a pile...

Lucky 777 Aug 04, 2022 10:29 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

I have a fountain in my yard that I am pleased provides a reliable source of water for a wide variety of birds and the bees from my hives. The skunks, raccoons and opossums I rarely see, the rats I begrudge, but so it goes. In just the last 3 years I now see squirrels on the Westside, they are a delight. Coexist !

a-1659624351 Aug 04, 2022 07:45 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

While I appreciate your kind sentiments and human-centric attitudes; these are wild animals. And by offering them your human food, you are destroying their abilities to hunt, forage, find food within the habitat they find themselves. They were not put here to be the recipients of your benevolence - they are part of the ecosystem that humans are hell-bent on destroying. I have a small water source in my back yard that I make sure is always running - because everyone needs a drink of water. And the animals help themselves to the fruit in my trees. But I do not for one minute view myself as a kindly overlord to the animal kingdom - that would be pure hubris.

Rinconer Aug 04, 2022 07:10 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

We are all so lucky to live in such a wonderful area. Simply amazing how some folks bend over backwards in an endless quest to find something to complain about.

ParvoPup Aug 03, 2022 10:36 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

The vitriol is astounding. Feeding the wild critters? Really?

Allow me to blow your urban minds but up here in the northlands we put out 3 fresh water trays daily, spread a seed mix of millet, safflower, cracked corn, and thistle for the little guys. This mix and the water brings in house finches, goldfinches, sparrows, wrens, doves, towhees and the occasional Western Bluebird.

Raw peanuts and dog kibble go out for the Scrub Jays and the yearling Crow babies still crying for Mom to feed them.

I grow pollinators like Narrow leaf Milkweed, Mexican Sunflower, Thyme and Oregano, Russian Sage and Strawberry Tree so we support at least eight to ten Hummingbirds, native bees, honey bees and a few bomber bumbles.

At night, my yard is visited by a female skunk and her two kits, followed by two rambunctious noisy racoon siblings trying to figure out life on their own, and later, a very small red fox that uses the river willow tree behind my yard as a ladder to scale my fence and grub for leftovers.

I put out watermelon rinds, corn cobs and chicken parts. Somebody eats them,

Catch a parsley munching gopher with my GopherHawk trap - it gets tossed over the fence and is gone by morning. Something ate dinner last night.

Am I depriving these creatures of their natural lives by artificially providing water and food?



Great Grandma Thelma used to tell us kids that every time you helped one of God's creatures, Saint Peter put a gold star next to your name in the Book of Life. Every time you did wrong, you got a red X next to your name. When you died and went to the gates, if you had more gold stars than red X's, they would let you through to the other side.

I need all the gold stars I can muster so I care for the creatures.

AwareHuman Aug 03, 2022 06:43 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Possum eat ticks and other offending little ones ... they're helpful creatures who do no harm. Racoons do not cause us any bother, nor does the occasionxall skunk.
We live amongst them
I have noticedthey don't eat nonorganic fruit or veggies. They let us know when purportef organic is , actually, not! So, we appreciate them for their gifts.

a-1659575515 Aug 03, 2022 06:11 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

The people who do this are not unlike those that let their pets roam free in the neighborhood. Over the years we have endured sieges from skunks that attacked our dog and generally make living in our home grossly unpleasant for long periods. We have had raccoons that destroyed our garden. When neighbors encourage such animals they are just being uncivil. We try to live in a shared community and to be considerate of others there. If you feel compelled to violate these social agreements it would be nice if you moved out to the boonies.

a-1659865957 Aug 07, 2022 02:52 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

If you feel like criticizing the dog in the yard issue, believe me, we've been through it, painfully. Don't bother; don't do so until you care for an elder parent with mental issues/dementia and assist their professional caregivers. I hope you never have to do so.

a-1659862257 Aug 07, 2022 01:50 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Depending on the size of your dog, coyotes will mess them up even worse. An elder relative insisted on letting/putting the dog out unnecessarily. Yard had about a 3 foot fence. Dog disappeared forever... Family and caregivers all agree it was taken by a coyote. Granted, it was more than 10 pounds and less than 20.
Yes, it is your property, but you owe your pets the same care you'd give a child.
We will not keep skunks out of our neighborhoods, with big yards rich in resources. Every dog owner whose dog is outside at night, or every dog owner for in case of emergency, should keep a bottle of enzymatic scent-decaying wash in their cupboard.

a-1659644008 Aug 04, 2022 01:13 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Minibeast--you don't got to see it, you got to smell it! ( Yes I get the point that skunks don't "attack" per se but they do not retreat either. If they are in your yard and your domesticated and loyal dog is there as is the norm, the skunks will mess him/her up bad. Is this acceptable for the freedom of skunks to roam or does the world already have an excess dose of skunks? I say let the skunks find a place away from people and stop enticing them into the neighborhood.

a-1659643999 Aug 04, 2022 01:13 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Minibeast--you don't got to see it, you got to smell it! ( Yes I get the point that skunks don't "attack" per se but they do not retreat either. If they are in your yard and your domesticated and loyal dog is there as is the norm, the skunks will mess him/her up bad. Is this acceptable for the freedom of skunks to roam or does the world already have an excess dose of skunks? I say let the skunks find a place away from people and stop enticing them into the neighborhood.

GeneralTree Aug 03, 2022 10:35 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

It's amazing how people are trapped in their own personal Hell while living in a beautiful place such as Santa Barbara.

OGSB Aug 03, 2022 08:26 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

6:11- The people here believe you should follow civil society rules, just their rules. Which changes with the media/Tic-Toc etc. Why people would though scaps to wild animals is beyond me. There's a reason there are signs that say "Don't feed the animals". A simple Google search people. There is a reason and it isn't helping them. wow.

pstarSR Aug 03, 2022 05:19 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

food scrapes are different than trash, there needs to be a distinction.

food scrapes bio degrade and are beneficial to your lawn and garden. ie. compost.

notme Aug 03, 2022 03:25 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

My first thought was crows, too. In the years before the Marborg bins, I can remember watching crows pulling food out of people's trash cans when the cans were put at the curb before trash day.

a-1659562714 Aug 03, 2022 02:38 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Just another example of how public health laws are being ignored by ignorant people.

patrick Aug 03, 2022 02:03 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

While we don't leave food scraps out (they either go into our worm bin or compost pile), I frequently find scraps in our yard, presumably dropped by crows. I have a friend who lives near Carp State Beach, and he's constantly picking up chicken bones and other items the crows have dropped in his yard.

GeneralTree Aug 03, 2022 12:23 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

"I wouldn't want that close to my house. " Don't worry so much about what others are doing. Rest confident in the fact that you are not required to put watermelon rinds in your own yard.

FondofSB Aug 03, 2022 12:00 PM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

Most wildlife enjoys watermelon and other leftover.
Fortunately there are still people who feel that wildlife is a God's sent to earth (and us) rather than being "unsavory critters" that (according to you) should be getting rid of

Babycakes Aug 03, 2022 10:13 AM
Why Leave Food Scraps Out?

We leave nearly all of our food scraps out, but do not put it on our front lawn. If you happen to have a security camera, you've probably notices any number of animals within the city limits, so most of the scrap are eaten by birds, possum, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, skunks, and one time we even had a fox! There are mountain lions in our area, but they really are not interested in vegetables, rice, beans, coffee grounds, and such. The only rats/mice we get are from our bird feeders, although I did see a rat nibbling on some discarded chicken and meat (ribs, t-bone, chops) bones. I have noticed a huge reduction in the number of raccoons....we used to get them nearly every night, but now we only see them a few times a year (maybe the city is trapping them?). The animals are hurting people, so the more we help them out, the better for everyone.

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