AZGFD reminds public about wildlife-safe Halloween decorating

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department: A javelina eats a pumpkin. The Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages certain fall decorations that could attract wildlife to be displayed indoors instead of outdoors.

Contributed Article/Courtesy AZ Game and Fish Department

TUCSON – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is reminding area residents that Halloween pumpkins and fall decorations like gourds or squash attract wildlife when displayed outdoors.

“Javelina, coyotes, deer, and even bears eat some of the vegetables that are part of traditional holiday displays,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. “When displayed outdoors, they may attract wildlife to homes, potentially creating conflicts with people.”

The department recommends that jack-o-lanterns and cornucopias be displayed well off the ground, or indoors on window sills to be seen from outside, and then discarded securely to help prevent encounters with foraging wildlife. Using artificial pumpkins for outdoor display is another option.

“Habituating wildlife to a human food source inevitably leads to conflicts with people and can result in serious harm in some cases,” said Urban Wildlife Specialist Locana de Souza of Game and Fish in Tucson. “Furthermore, unintentional or intentional feeding can cause problems for wildlife, such as obesity and malnutrition, and promote the spread of disease.”

It is illegal under state law (A.R.S. 13-2927) to feed wildlife in Pima, Maricopa, and Pinal counties, with the exception of birds as well as tree squirrels, which are rare at lower elevations. The maximum penalty is a $300 fine.