The Arizona Game and Fish Department is reminding residents to think about wildlife.
This time of year it is common to carve pumpkins and display them by your front door. But the problem is, animals like javelina, deer and even bears and coyotes enjoy eating these holiday treats.
“Well wildlife is always looking for one of four things: food, water, shelter, and other of the same species,” said Mark Hart with Arizona Game and Fish. “That’s their nature. So if they can find a food source that’s readily available that’s from a human hand, they will eat it.”
So when people display a pumpkin on their front door, they are attracting these animals in.
“Right now we’re dealing with an issue in central Tucson involving javelinas so you’re not immune,” said Hart. “If you’re near a wash, javelina can get in.”
Not only is it bad for the animals, but it can also be dangerous for residents.
“Javelina don’t see very well, but they have a keen sense of smell and they’re also wild animals so they react very instinctively to threats, real or perceived,” Hart said. “In 2009 a woman living up around Ventana Canyon broke her wrist and got puncture woods to her legs when she opened her front door to discover javelina eating her jack-o-lantern.”
There are some alternatives if residents still want to decorate.
“If you’re going to display a jack-o-lantern outside this Halloween, put it high up so the javelina can’t get to them or put them indoors on a windowsill facing out so people can see them from the street,” Hart said.
Plus many stores now sell ceramic or plastic pumpkins that are wildlife-safe.
When throwing real pumpkins away at the end of the season, it is also important to do it correctly. Arizona Game and Fish recommends taking the pumpkins out the day of trash pickup because javelina will smell them inside the trash and they are known to knock them over.
Keep an eye out for wildlife when out trick-or-treating too. Javelina sometimes mistakes dogs for wild coyotes and can get aggressive so Arizona Game and Fish says to leave the dog home when trick-or-treating.
They say if you do see a javelina clap or make a loud noise and they should leave.
If you happen to come in contact with a javelina or other desert animal you can call the Game and Fish Department at (623)236-7201.