SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS : Officials Ask Visitors Not to Feed Wildlife

Visitors to the burned-out areas of the Santa Monica Mountains should resist the urge to feed birds, deer, rabbits or other wildlife they fear may be going hungry after recent fires scorched the area, authorities said.

The National Park Service "strongly discourages the artificial feeding of wildlife" because it encourages a dependence on humans for food, Jean Bray, a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica National Recreation Area, said in a statement.

Feeding animals seeds or other plant food could also cause growth of non-native plants in the forest and deter the growth of natural vegetation, she said.

"Admittedly, the landscape changed after the Green Meadow and Old Topanga fires, and a charred blackened landscape is what is most visible, but there are areas of unburned vegetation," said David E. Gackenbach, superintendent of the park. "In addition, areas around streams were burned, but the vegetation along the streams is mostly intact."

Even without significant rain, plants have already begun to sprout again, biologists said.

Although people who live in the mountainous areas have probably seen animals foraging near their homes, the Park Service has not received any complaints of forest animals in urban areas looking for food, a spokeswoman said.

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