Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are reminding Coloradans and visitors to refrain from feeding the state's wildlife after several people have been cited for doing so this year.
Feeding the state's wildlife is illegal and can cause harm to animal species and people feeding them across the state.
"The hardcore truth about feeding wildlife is that it does more harm than good," said CPW area wildlife manager Adrian Archuleta in a news release. "It can serve to create conflict with humans and can directly lead to the spread of disease."
Officials said people who feed animals can create an unnatural area where large numbers of animals gather because they know food is readily available. These areas tend to accumulate feces, saliva and urine that can carry parasites, bacteria and viruses that can cause diseases such as chronic wasting disease, according to a release.
Besides potentially harming other animals, feeding animals can lead to direct conflicts between wildlife and humans. CPW has recorded several instances in which artificially fed deer have become aggressive to homeowners or neighbors.
In areas such as Crested Butte, particularly at Mountain Crested Butte, wildlife officials have had troubles in recent years with people feeding foxes that has led to them becoming too comfortable around humans and direct conflicts.
Foxes in these areas are also more likely to have outbreaks of sarcastic mange, a parasitic disease that causes severe hair loss and, ultimately, death.
"I think more often than not, folks think that they are doing something positive by feeding wildlife," said District Wildlife Manager Philip Gurule. "Ultimately, what they're doing is detrimental to the movements of wildlife and their overall health."
When large numbers of animals concentrate in a specific area, it can also lead to an increase of large predators in the areas such as mountain lions.
Although some people willingly feed the state's wildlife, officials also say people do with without their knowledge from bird feeders or fruit trees.
Officials recommend residents to pick up fruit that drops from a tree immediately to avoid regular gatherings in their yards. Deer as well as bears are known to take advantage of these situations, which can turn into conflicts.
Additionally people are asked to report anyone who is seen feeding wildlife to their local CPW office.
"We need people to hold each other accountable," Archuleta said. "Please, call your local office and report those who are breaking this law. It doesn't only protect those in our community but the animals themselves."