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

Nature Conservancy of Canada
By Nature Conservancy of Canada
November 4th, 2021

Halloween is officially in the rear view mirror although you may still have candy still 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 (pronounced VAR-E) McFarlane is NCC’s director of science and stewardship. While it may sound like a green idea, McFarlane, says throwing your pumpkin 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,” McFarlane said.

“While pumpkins may be tasty and attract animals such as deer, moose, raccoons and squirrels they do not require additional food.”

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

About NCC

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast. To learn more, visit

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