JACKSON, Wyo. — Pumpkins are fun, wildlife attractants are not.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking residents to properly dispose of pumpkins instead of leaving them out for wildlife to eat.

While it may seem harmless to leave pumpkins out, it is in fact the opposite. For example, mule deer digestive systems cannot handle these unnatural foods which often leads to sick animals. In addition, this food source may attract scavenging animals from raccoons to bears.

“This time of year we get many calls about sickly deer fawns and much of this can be attributed to these deer eating foods that offer little nutritional value and that they have a difficult time digesting. This makes them susceptible to parasites and other diseases,” Lander Wildlife Biologist Stan Harter said.

In Jackson, it’s easier than ever to avoid the feeding of wildlife through the county’s pumpkin-smashing event which will take place this Friday, Nov. 4. Residents can bring their jack-o-lanterns by the Teton County Fairgrounds between 4 and 6 p.m. for a free and with the help of JH Fire/EMS, jack-o-lanterns will be dropped from the aerial ladder high above the ground aiming for targets below.

Here are some other things you can do to help wildlife this time of year:

  • Pick up your hammocks, soccer nets, and tomato cages and consider placing holiday lights out of reach.
  • Keep your pets confined and/or on a leash and do not allow pets to chase wildlife. Keep your distance and give wildlife plenty of room. 
  • Slow down on roadways for migrating wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk. Plan for added time in your travels.
  • If you have fences, make them wildlife-friendly and open gates wherever possible for easier wildlife movement.