Do Not Feed the Animals - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03-08-04

Do Not Feed the Animals

  Joann Munsell is one of 20 million people who visit Texas' 120 state parks each year.  She and her husband traveled all the way from Pennsylvania for an extended stay at Tyler State Park.
 She learned first-hand last week how "friendly" the animals have become when a raccoon wandered into their campsite.  Joann says he just would not go away, he kept coming back again and again.  She finally had to run him of with a big stick.  So what's the problem with a raccoon that acts more like a pet than a wild animal?
  Plenty, according to park manager, Bill Smart.  He says raccoons could attack people, especially those that have diseases, rabies or distemper, because they have no fear of humans, therefore, they can intermingle with them.
  But it's not just about the safety of park visitors. It's also about protecting the health of the park residents.  Smart says, the animals are set up for failure, because they're given a false sense of security of a food source.  And, when that food source is not there, than they don't know what to do.
  As a result, Smart, along with park officials all across the state, will now try a new tactic in keeping visitors and animals at arms length a five hundred dollar fine.  The new law is set to take affect march 20th.  The violation is considered a Class C misdemeanor.

Kevin Berns, reporting

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