PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) - October is the season when your front yard might have a pumpkin or two on display. You can't think about Halloween without thinking about a fresh carved jack-o-lantern! But it's scary to think that the holiday staple could get you in trouble... even fined!
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) says that it's all due to the feeding of wildlife and trying to keep them out of the urban areas. But don't worry, they're not coming after you. AZGFD Spokesperson Amy Burnett, says just to follow their suggestions.
"Feel free to decorate until your heart feels content with pumpkins. But, take them in at night so the javelinas don't take advantage of it" said Amy Burnett, spokesperson for AZGFD.
The state rule on the unlawful feeding of wildlife says that if you're caught intentionally feeding animals like javelina, you'll get a warning the first time. But if you get caught again, you could have to pay a fine. To read about the rule click here.
"We just want people to do the right thing" Burnett added. "If you have a pumpkin out for decoration that's perfectly fine, but if you're placing pieces of pumpkin out... willingly knowing attracting animals by putting pumpkins out, that could be considered wildlife feeding" said Burnett.
Arizona's rule applies to not only those living in Maricopa County but also other counties that have a population of over 280k people. That includes Pinal and Pima counties as well.
The goal is to keep the wild animals away from neighborhoods which will also help keep your pets safe from all wildlife like javelina. "When they smell dog, they smell coyote. They don't distinguish the two smells. And, coyote is the arch enemy of the javelina" said Burnett.
AZGFD says they've never given out any tickets. The officers usually give people the benefit of the doubt and a warning first. Click the following link to learn more about living near javelina: https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/livingwith/javelina/