Breaking News
More () »

Here's why wildlife officials say not to leave out your pumpkins

Leaving out pumpkins can have unintended consequences, like attracting bears and mountain lions. Also, it's illegal.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding people to properly dispose of their pumpkins after Halloween and to not leave them out for wildlife.

Not only is it illegal to intentionally feed wildlife in Colorado, leaving out pumpkins can lead to unintended consequences – like attracting bears and mountain lions, CPW said Friday in a news release.

Deer feeding in pumpkins can attract predators to residential areas. Also, pumpkins can draw bears looking to pile on calories before hibernation, leading to unnecessary conflicts with humans.

Feeding wildlife can also make animals unafraid of humans and cause them to congregate, which can lead to the spread of disease.

"As far as in-town pumpkins go, bears are still around and haven't gone to bed yet," said Steve McClung, CPW assistant area wildlife manager. "Other animals such as racoons 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."

So what's a better use for old pumpkins?

A lot of communities offer disposal sites, where the pumpkins go to ranchers and farmers to feed to domestic livestock. For instance, in La Plata County, 13,000 pounds of pumpkins dropped off at the county fairgrounds have gone to feed livestock over the past three years, CPW said.

Wildlife officials also asked people to not dump pumpkins on public lands.

RELATED: 'The species is in trouble': Race is on to save Colorado's tiny alpine toad

RELATED: Here's where to cut down your own Christmas tree in Golden

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Animals and Wildlife   

Before You Leave, Check This Out