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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. 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 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. -- EDWARD CLARK, WAYNESBORO, VA.

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DEAR MR. CLARK: When that letter appeared, I received a flurry of mail about it. Thank you for writing so eloquently to educate my readers -- and me.

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