LOVELAND, Colo. -- An 80-year-old Loveland man has been issued a citation for illegally feeding squirrels in his backyard, after a neighbor complained the animals were damaging his lawn.
"These squirrels are here every day, all winter, all summer," said Gaylor Sigman. "It's like a city park."
It's not just squirrels visiting the well-stocked lawn, where there are bowls of peanuts, corn and birdseed.
From raccoons to skunks to deer, the Korean War Veteran's hobby is documenting a backyard menagerie with a sort of childlike joy. His living room contains a bulletin board covered in photos of his visitors.
"You can see here that I was feeding coons," said Sigman. "Here's one sleeping on the log out back."
But last month, he was in for a shock when a warning came from the city of Loveland followed by a citation for illegally feeding raccoons and squirrels.
"It says, 'Please remove food containers from your yard,'" read Sigman.
Sgt. Chrystal Freeman, an Animal Control Officer with the Larimer Humane Society, said that it is not actually illegal to feed squirrels unless they are causing other problems.
Records show a neighbor complained about damage to his lawn from squirrels burying peanuts and digging into the ground.
"It just boils down to the more squirrels you have, the more damage they can cause to the neighboring populations, and honestly I don't know what the answer is," said Freeman.
Freeman said the food also attracts animals that can carry diseases such as rabies and distemper. Also, the squirrels can become more aggressive as they become more used to people.
Meanwhile, Sigman's daughter Brenda Willis, lives a few blocks away and said her father's hobby is harmless, but taking it away from him isn't.
"Yeah, let him feed the squirrels," said Willis. "He is a kind man, and his yard is immaculate. It's not hurting anyone."
Sigman said the citation has affected him deeply.
"To me, it's crippling. Physically and psychologically. It got to where I couldn't sleep at night - I didn't eat. I've lost weight," he said.
For now, he said, he has stopped feeding raccoons and moved the peanuts further from his neighbor's yard.
But he is hoping to plead his case in court June 19, to keep feeding the animals that feed his spirit.
"I want to be left alone," he said. "To me, the neighborhood is becoming sterile. If you don't have animals, and you come outside, there is nothing to see."