Despite online tips and tricks telling people to toss their jack-o’-lanterns in the woods for wildlife, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is saying don’t do it.
NCC’s director of science and stewardship Mhairi McFarlane said disposing of pumpkins in forests and natural areas could result in sick animals and other people may follow by example and discard more 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,” McFarlane said.
“While pumpkins may be tasty and attract animals such as deer, moose, raccoons and squirrels, they do not require additional food.”
McFarlane noted people have already dumped pumpkins on conservation lands illegally, and while the organic material will eventually decompose, it takes time and may be unsightly for others.
Dumping anything on private land is illegal, she said, and it can encourage others to dump other things that may or may not decompose.
Instead, the NCC is urging people to compost pumpkins at home or take advantage of local programs that aim at keeping the squash out of the landfills.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan’s Waste Reduction Office encourages you to toss your pumpkin in your backyard compost bin for great results come spring.
In Lake Country, the Warren Peace Bunny Sanctuary always appreciates donated pumpkins for feeding the animals. You can drop it off in the bin at the end of the driveway at 14320 Pelmewash Parkway. They will even compost it if you’ve left it as part of your seasonal outdoor display for a while and it’s no longer suitable as food for the animals.
You can also put your pumpkin in your curbside yard waste cart for your next pickup. Check your Living Greener Calendar, the Recycle Coach app, or rdco.com/recycle for cart pick-up schedules in your area. Yard waste collection season runs until the end of December.
And of course, if your pumpkin is still in good condition and free of debris or damage from the elements, consider using it in baking or soup making. Pumpkins when toasted or baked can be rich in potassium and protein.
Another Halloween tip: while the candy wrappers your little ones bring home can’t go into your recycling cart, they can be returned to your nearest recycling depot as part of the flexible packaging recycling program.
For more information on composting, yard waste or recycling collection programs, visit rdco.com/recycle or call the Regional Waste Reduction Office at 250-469-6250.