Diet Plans & Dangers: Wildlife Impacted Negatively by Our Diet Plans
Diet plans for most of America are so poor, the problems aren't only noted in our waistlines - but in the wildlife as well. As Americans increasingly swap a healthy diet for packaged processed foods, so do foxes, raccoons and opossums living closer and closer to us, research shows.
Such animals living close to urban areas are more often finding leftovers from fast-food outlets, rather than chasing down their normal diet of mice, rats and birds, an article published in the December issue of the Journal of Mammology says.
A study of endangered San Joaquin kit foxes in and around Bakersfield, Calif., found a growing number of them eating the same things as humans, particularly corn syrup. Hair samples from foxes and people in the study area were analyzed and showed distinct similarities, suggesting a shared food source.
Urban foxes had significantly higher carbon and lower nitrogen values than their non-urban counterparts from adjacent areas, and city-dwelling foxes showed higher cholesterol levels than their country cousins, the journal article said.
The high carbon values are an indicator of a diet high in corn or its derivative, corn syrup, the researchers say. Processed foods contain large amounts of corn products characterized by high carbon content.
While the findings suggest negative implications for the urban fox population in terms of a deficient diet causing poorer health and lower reproductive rates, evidence shows survival and birth rates are higher among foxes in urban than in non-urban habitats, where they have a greater risk of being a food item for the greater number of predators.