I broke the law this week and didn't even know it.

This year for Halloween our family carved four big pumpkins that were displayed in front of our house. After all of the trick-or-treaters had come and gone and our skeleton decorations were packed away until next year, all that was left were the remains of our jack-o-lantern friends.

Instead of throwing the pumpkins in the trash, I decided to leave them out on our front yard for the squirrels, chipmunks and deer to enjoy. This seemed like a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of the food. Why waste the edible leftovers when these animals would be more than happy to chow down on the free meal?

Well, it turns out that I actually broke the law.

That's right. In the Hudson Valley, it is illegal to leave food out for deer. According to the DEC, feeding deer is forbidden except for very specific circumstances. Unless you're feeding the deer for agricultural or research reasons that have been approved by the DEC, you're breaking the law.

A. Boris
A. Boris

There are several reasons why feeding deer is forbidden in the Hudson Valley. Enticing the animals can help spread disease and cause the animals to change their behavior. Providing food can also alter the animals' migratory patterns and make them feel a little too comfortable around humans.

Every morning when I wake up for work there are four or five deer in my yard. I didn't think that leaving my pumpkins out there for them to get rid of would cause any harm, let alone be against the law. But now that I know, I will certainly be tossing those pumpkins in the trash next year.

But I can guarantee you those deer will still be there regardless of whether they're recycling my jack-o-lanterns or not.

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