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Animal Advocate Says Waste Lures Wildlife Into Danger

DEAR ABBY: I am president and co-founder of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, one of the leading teaching and research hospitals for wildlife medicine in the world. We have treated more than 70,000 wild patients since our organization was established 35 years ago. Like the reader ("An Apple a Day," Aug. 11) who is under the impression that throwing an apple core out the car window is doing something positive for the Earth, many individuals make "little" decisions without considering the unintended consequences.

The example of the apple core has been at the heart of our education program for more than three decades. Before throwing that apple core out the window believing that some small animal will come finish what's left, people should consider what will happen if the animal coming to eat their scraps happens to be on the other side of the road.

Throwing out that apple core will lure that creature into harm's way. Countless opossums, raccoons, skunks and other small mammals are killed every day because of human food waste on the shoulder of the road. And it doesn't stop there. Predators like owls also suffer. They hunt along the side of the road, not because they eat apple cores, but because they eat the mice, voles and other small animals who are attracted to feed on that apple core. Then, when the opossum, raccoon or owl is killed by a car, scavengers are attracted to the pavement, where their lives, too, are at risk.

If readers want to help the Earth, they should take their waste home and dispose of it or recycle it properly. The small act of throwing an apple core out of a car window can cost the lives of the very creatures they claim to want to help. -- EDWARD CLARK, WAYNESBORO, VA.

DEAR MR. CLARK: When that letter appeared, I received a flurry of mail about it. Many readers touched on some of the points you have expressed. Thank you for writing so eloquently to educate my readers -- and me. Lesson learned.

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