The first thing those of you who are feeding peanuts to the wildlife who think I have no right to ask you to stop will likely say is that you have a “right” to feed the animals on your property anything you want and I have no right to even ask that you stop doing so.
I will not argue that you have a “right” to feed the wildlife on your property. You do. I feed the birds on my property pretty much all year round. I have an organic garden and have spent the last 10+ summers improving the soil quality of my lawn without pesticides in part because I want the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks to be safe in my yard and to be healthy. I also want the next generation to be healthy as well as the planet.
I will, however, argue that you have no “right” to feed the wildlife peanuts. There are several reasons you do not have this right. The first is that the wildlife is just that “wild life”. These animals and the peanuts you feed them do not stay solely on your property. They travel across yards, taunting dogs and pleasing children who see them and scattering the peanuts you give them. This is a new phenomenon to me. I have never seen peanut shells in any of my gardens before much less throughout my lawn. But, in the last two weeks I have lost count of the ones I’ve seen. I could have counted them as I picked them up but I couldn’t. Not because I can’t count or I’m immobile, but, because I have a peanut allergy- an anaphylactic allergy. Picking up the discarded shells of your peanuts could land me in the hospital if I’m lucky, or it could kill me if I’m unlucky.
I like to think most people do not intentionally harm others so I’m choosing to believe those of you feeding peanuts to wild life have just not thought the whole thing through. Here are a couple of other things you might want to consider before you choose what to feed the animals in your yard next time.
I am 50. I am an anomaly because few people who are my age have this allergy. The majority of those who have anaphylactic peanut allergies are now young adults and children. Surely you would not wish to be the cause of a small child and their frightened parents rush to the emergency department. I choose not to believe you would inflict severe hot, swelling and itchy skin rashes that can leave you uncomfortable and drugged for days on me or anyone else. Nor do I think you would wish on anyone much less a 6 year old the heavy leaden feeling that prednisone gives you in exchange for keeping you breathing. Your actions can create these results. Is this something you want to be responsible for?
Does you right to feed wildlife peanuts mean my friend’s grandson cannot come to visit because I cannot guarantee his safety in my yard. Will he not swim in my pool because I cannot be sure he won’t step on the lawn (the natural lawn that I have been building to keep wildlife safe) because he may step on a peanut shell?
Do I now need to ask everyone who comes to my home whether or not they have a peanut allergy so that they can then decide whether or not they are comfortable coming over.
Does this mean I have to give up gardening for fear that I may accidently come in contact with a peanut?
Do I have to give up walking barefoot on my lawn?
Unfortunately I do now need to do all of these things and I can no longer walk barefoot on my lawn- yes that is “my lawn”. I find this last thing so unbelievable.
All of the above are good reasons, responsible reasons, and rational and logical reasons for you to stop feeding the animals peanuts. But, the one true reason you have no “right” to toss peanuts about on your property is that doing so infringes on my “right” to be safe in my home and on my property as it does of every other adult and child living in your neighbourhood. And this is simply not right. So be a good neighbour and please stop feeding the wildlife peanuts. Not because it’s an issue of your rights verses mine but because it is the right thing to do.
P.S. Thank you to my daughter Emily who picks up the peanuts and their shells when she sees them. She is trying to keep her mom safe. What a thing for one’s child to have to do.