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Don’t throw 'The Great Pumpkin' in the woods

Throwing pumpkins in the woods could result in wildlife becoming sick
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Disposing of Halloween pumpkins in natural areas is not a good idea according to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

NATURE CONSERVANCY OF CANADA ‑ Halloween is officially in the rear-view mirror although you may still have candy around the house.

But what about the Jack or Jill o-Lanterns you selected from all the other pumpkins at the local store or field?

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is urging people not to discard pumpkins into forests or natural areas.

Mhairi McFarlane is NCC’s director of science and stewardship. While it may sound like a green idea, McFarlane, says throwing pumpkins in the woods could unintentionally result in wildlife becoming sick, in addition to other people choosing to dump debris.

“Causing animals to congregate around an unnatural food source can put them at greater risk of transmitting disease, and if the site is close to a road, can increase their risk of being killed by vehicles. While pumpkins may be tasty and attract animals such as deer, moose, raccoons and squirrels they do not require additional food,” McFarlane said.

McFarlane recommends people compost them at home or take advantage of local composting initiatives. This can keep the pumpkins out of the garbage and landfills. She says contacting local farms, wildlife rehabilitation centres and zoos are also great ideas as they may take the pumpkins for animal food or enrichment.

McFarlane says some people have unfortunately dumped pumpkins on NCC conservation lands and although organic material will decompose, it can take some time and be unsightly for others. She points out dumping anything on private land is illegal, and it can encourage others to dump additional items, which may not decompose.

McFarlane’s tale of a pumpkin’s life can be read here: