Why tossing your pumpkin into natural areas can actually cause harm

Why tossing your pumpkin into natural areas can actually cause harm

Even though Halloween is now behind us, there may be remnants of it lying around still -- whether it's leftover candy, decorations that haven't been taken down or a pumpkin you don't know what to do with.

Regarding the latter, there are multiple options at your disposal: Consumption for humans and birds, donation and composting, among other suggestions.

SEE ALSO: 5 things to do with your pumpkins after Halloween

But there is one gesture that you shouldn't do. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is urging people to avoid discarding pumpkins into forests or natural areas.

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

Pumpkin/Matt Eberle/Unsplash
Pumpkin/Matt Eberle/Unsplash

(Matt Eberle/Unsplash)

“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 struck by vehicles, which can also injure motorists," McFarlane said in a media release. "While pumpkins may be tasty and attract animals such as deer, moose, raccoons and squirrels, they do not require additional food."

Instead, McFarlane recommends people compost them at home or through local initiatives. This can keep the pumpkins out of the garbage and landfills. Contacting local farms, wildlife rehabilitation centres and zoos are also favourable options as they may accept them for animal food or enrichment, she noted.

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There have been instances where people have discarded pumpkins on NCC conservation lands. While organic material will decompose, it can take time for it to finish, a process that can be "unsightly" for some people, McFarlane said.

As well, dumping anything on private land is illegal, she noted, and it can encourage others to discard additional items, which may not decompose.

McFarlane penned a blog on the pumpkin’s life after Halloween, which offers additional insights on new uses for it and why discarding it incorrectly can be harmful to animals and the environment.

Thumbnail courtesy of Pexels.

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