Tangled wildlife, jack-o’-lantern bait: Parks and Wildlife urges public to watch out for decorations as Halloween draws to a close

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are asking the public to properly dispose of their pumpkins after hosting Halloween and fall-related festivities to avoid negative impacts on wildlife and the environment.
Shane Morris/Town of Silverthorne

As Halloween draws to a close, wildlife managers are asking the public to remember to remove decorations and put away pumpkins to help protect wildlife.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, animals like bears and deer are attracted to carved pumpkins left on porches or doorsteps.

“We see pumpkins thrown in the forest. Please don’t do this,” said area assistant wildlife director Steve McClung. “It can be considered bait.”



For community members who live in the busiest areas of the city, the bears are still around and have not gone into hibernation. During this time of year, bears are always looking to gain more weight during binge eating. Other animals such as raccoons that can carry disease could also enter the pumpkins, and animals that might be sick could interact with pets.

One option for pumpkin disposal is the High Country Conservation Center’s Free Pumpkin Composting. Until November 13, community members can drop off their old pumpkins at one of the county’s many sites. There will be specifically labeled bins for pumpkins at drop-off points, including Breckenridge Recycling Center, Frisco Recycling Center and Silverthorne Recycling Center. Users are advised to remove candles, artificial lighting, paint, sequins and any other decoration before placing them in the bins provided for this purpose. The pumpkins will be taken to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park where they will be mixed with food scraps and other materials for composting.



“We want our wildlife to be supported by the resources that are naturally found in their habitat,” said wildlife pathologist Karen Fox.

This year, Summit County has seen an increase in human-bear interactions due to improperly disposed trash or birdseed. The county received 65 human-bear conflict reports between April 1 and September 30, up from 44 reports the same time last year, a 47 percent increase. Statewide, Parks and Wildlife received 3,614 conflict reports from April 1 through October 1, an increase from 3,155 reports during the same period last year, an increase of about 15 percent .

In addition to pumpkins, wildlife officials are also encouraging the public to pay close attention to outdoor decorations over the next few weeks, especially Halloween web decorations and Christmas lights. The rut – or breeding season – for deer reaches its peak in late November and will last until mid-December.

If an animal, such as a deer or moose, is seen entangled in something, wildlife officials ask the public to report it directly to Parks and Wildlife by calling a local office or through the State Patrol of Colorado if it is outside normal business hours. When calling the State Patrol, they will forward your information to the Wildlife Warden Officer in your area. Wildlife managers recommend that lights and other decorations be placed at least 6 feet above the ground or securely attached to trees or buildings.

“We need to know these situations quickly,” McClung said. “It’s better if we can reach these animals before they’ve been overstressed and exhausted. Throwing them also creates stress and can lead to death if the animal has already been over-stressed. If the animal isn’t attached to what it’s entangled in, it can also be difficult to chase it around a neighborhood and get into a position to throw it, or sometimes it just disappears and you never catch it for the ride. ‘to help. The sooner we have information, the more we will be able to help this animal. »