Social media is rarely a reliable source of legal information, so you may have dismissed posts and articles about an Arizona pumpkin law. Is it really illegal to leave pumpkins or jack-o’-lanterns on your porch? The truth is a little more complex. While there is no specific law against decorative pumpkins in Arizona, you may face fines for feeding dangerous wildlife.
Is the Arizona Pumpkin Law Real?
The law against leaving pumpkins out in Arizona does not exclusively apply to pumpkins. It is a general law prohibiting leaving food out for wild animals. Under the new state statute 13-2927, it is illegal to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly feed wildlife in Arizona. The two exceptions to the law are tree squirrels and birds, which are legal to feed.
This law applies to counties with a population of over 280,000. In Arizona, these counties include:
- Maricopa County
- Pima County
- Pinal County
These counties consider unlawfully feeding wildlife a petty offense in these counties, punishable by a fine of up to $300.
Why Is There an Arizona Pumpkin Law?
Feeding wildlife may seem like a strange or trivial thing to prohibit, but this law was passed in the interest of public safety. Pumpkins left out on a porch can attract javelinas, coyotes, and bears. Arizona Game and Fish wardens have warned the public about the dangers of feeding wildlife for years, and unprovoked wild animal attacks are rising.
In 2023, a black bear fatally mauled an Arizona man in his backyard. Months earlier, a coyote injured two separate toddlers in close succession.
Javelinas particularly enjoy pumpkins as a food source. Packs of javelinas have seriously injured children and adults, leaving many bites similar in severity to dog bites. Pumpkins left on a porch can draw javelina packs into residential areas, increasing everyone’s risk of injury.
According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, feeding wildlife is also unhealthy for the animals. Finding food in neighborhoods instead of hunting and foraging can lead to wildlife obesity and dependence on humans.
Are There Fines for Violating the Arizona Pumpkin Law?
In the past, facing a fine for leaving a pumpkin on a porch was rare. Enforcement of petty offenses typically falls to individual police officers. Some officers have told news outlets that unless they believe a person left a pumpkin out for the sole purpose of feeding wildlife, they will not issue a fine.
However, the amount and severity of wild animal attacks may lead to stricter enforcement of this law in the future. Regardless of fines, it is safest not to leave pumpkins outside your home after sunset. If you want to make good use of jack-o’-lanterns, local wildlife conservation centers accept donated pumpkins to safely feed the animals in their care.
Where Can You Find More Information About Arizona Laws Like the Arizona Pumpkin Law?
While you may not need a lawyer to navigate the Arizona pumpkin law, many other state-specific laws may require expert legal help. At Sargon Law Group, our experienced attorneys can answer all your legal questions. Contact us for a free consultation.