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Halloween decorations may attract wildlife

Posted October 24, 2019

Javelina eating a pumpkin on Ft. Huachuca (file photo).

PHOENIX — The Halloween season is upon us and those carefully carved pumpkins sitting outside may be attracting some unwanted trick-or-treaters: hungry javelina and other wildlife looking for an easy meal.

“A ripened pumpkin sitting outdoors is like candy for javelina,” said Darren Julian, urban wildlife specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Pumpkins and other edible decorations are easy meals for wildlife and often attract javelina, coyotes, deer and even bears. Habituating wildlife to human food sources can lead to property damage and potential conflicts that could result in serious injuries to people or pets.”

The department recommends that jack-o-lanterns, uncarved pumpkins and cornucopias be displayed indoors on window sills so they can be seen from outside if desired, and discarded securely to help prevent encounters with foraging wildlife. If they must be displayed outdoors, be sure to place them high off the ground where they cannot be reached by wildlife. 

Additionally, the public is reminded that it is illegal under state law (A.R.S. 13-2927) to knowingly feed wildlife in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties, with the exception of birds as well as tree squirrels, which are rare at lower elevations. Intentionally feeding wildlife is a crime as it can create a public safety hazard when wildlife are unable to find the meal they’re seeking.  

Other wildlife may eat birdseed, so birds are best fed only in an enclosed yard, preferably from a bird feeder. A tray can be attached beneath a feeder to catch spillover seed. Seed blocks should be placed in an enclosed area or on a secure raised platform. 

For more tips on minimizing wildlife conflicts, visit