Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages residents to discard of pumpkins properly

Deer and other wild animals love to munch on old jack-o'-lanterns, but officials say leaving pumpkins out for wildlife can create human-wildlife conflicts.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy Photo

Intentionally feeding wildlife is illegal in Colorado, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife would like to remind residents to properly dispose of their pumpkins following Halloween, rather than leaving them out for wildlife to consume.

“We want our wildlife to be sustained by the resources that naturally occur in their habitat,” said Parks and Wildlife pathologist Karen Fox. “Our policy is definitely to not provide supplemental food to big game in any form.”

Leaving pumpkins out for wildlife might seem harmless, but could lead to unintended consequences. Deer feeding on pumpkins can attract predators, such as mountain lions, to residential areas. Bears are also attracted to the pumpkins as they look to pile on calories during the last days before denning season. That can lead to unnecessary human-bear conflicts.

Feeding wildlife can also habituate those animals to humans and cause them to congregate, which can lead to the spread of disease. Many communities offer pumpkin disposal sites, and it is common for local ranchers and farmers to take pumpkins to feed to their livestock. Parks and Wildlife officials encourage people looking to put their pumpkin to a better use than disposal in a landfill, and find other opportunities to donate pumpkins for agricultural uses.

As Halloween and jack-o’-lantern season also coincides with hunting season in Colorado, Parks and Wildlife also asks the public to refrain from dumping pumpkins on public lands.

“We do see pumpkins tossed out in the forest. Please don’t do that,” said Parks and Wildlife Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Steve McClung. “It can be viewed as baiting. As far as in-town pumpkins go, bears are still around and haven’t gone to bed yet. Other animals such as raccoons that may carry distemper or other diseases could also get into those pumpkins, and you don’t want potentially sick animals hanging around your home, especially if you have pets. Please find appropriate ways to discard your pumpkins after Halloween.”

For more information regarding living with wildlife, visit the

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