DENVER (KDVR) — Halloween is over and now you might be thinking to yourself, “what should I do with my leftover pumpkin?”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said posts and memes have been floating around social media directing people to intentionally feed pumpkins to wildlife.

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

In fact, intentionally feeding wildlife in Colorado is illegal.

“Under Colorado law, intentionally feeding big game animals is illegal. The prohibition applies to deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and bears. Violators face a $100 fine,” CPW said.

Leaving your pumpkins out for wildlife can actually be dangerous.

  • Deer eating pumpkins can attract predators, like mountain lions.
  • Bears preparing for hibernation can also be attracted to the pumpkins, which can lead to unnecessary human-bear conflicts.
  • It can also cause wildlife to congregate and spread disease.

“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.”

CPW also said you should avoid dumping your pumpkins on public lands.

“We do see pumpkins tossed out in the forest. Please don’t do that,” said CPW Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Steve McClung. “It can be viewed as baiting.”

If you are looking for a place to dispose of your pumpkin, many areas offer pumpkin disposal sites.

“In the last three years, La Plata County residents have dropped off more than 13,000 pounds of pumpkins during drop-off days at the local fairgrounds. Those have gone to be used as animal feed at local ranches,” CPW said.

Be sure to check your individual town or city’s website to see where and when pumpkin recycling takes place.