There is always the temptation to leave something out for those poor critters left to scavenge for a little grub during the long, cold winter months, but the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says providing food for wildlife can harm the creatures you aim to help.

"While most people have good intentions, supplemental feeding of wildlife typically does more harm than good," according to MassWildlife.

MassWildlife says, "Most wildlife seasonally change their behavior to adapt to cold temperatures and scarce food supplies." According to the agency, "Supplemental feeding can alter that behavior and have detrimental, and sometimes fatal effects."

Massachusetts Officials: Don't Feed Wild Animals During Winter
Dartmouth Police via Facebook

When humans provide food to wildlife during winter months, that wildlife will congregate into "unnaturally high densities." As a result, the supplemental food can attract predators, spread diseases among wildlife, and cause aggression and competition over food, "wasting vital energy reserves."

MassWildlife says leaving snacks for wild animals can "negatively impact vegetation and habitat in areas where feeding congregates animals."

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Another thing to consider is that by drawing wildlife out of the woods to supplemental food supplies, those animals may need to "cross roads more frequently, therefore increasing vehicle collisions."

Feeding wild animals during the winter months is bad for them and potentially fatal for you.

Massachusetts Officials: Don't Feed Wild Animals During Winter
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife via Facebook

Providing food to wild animals is never a good idea, regardless of the time of year. MassWildlife says, "It teaches them to rely on humans for food, which puts them at a disadvantage for survival and can lead to human/wildlife conflicts."

"The best way to help wildlife make it through the winter is to step back and allow the animals' instincts to take over," according to MassWildlife.

MassWildlife has tips on winter feeding for birds on its website and more suggestions on ways to assist wildlife during the winter and all year.

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