WOODLAND and forestry managers are urging the public not to discard Halloween pumpkins in the mistaken belief they are helping wildlife.
Research has shown that pumpkins can be toxic to a vast array of British wildlife, including species considered to be endangered.
Public land managers cite misguided social media posts as the source of poor information encouraging people to put their pumpkins out for creatures like hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, deer, squirrels and field mice.
However, experts are trying to spread the message that pumpkins can make hedgehogs dangerously ill, and can also be toxic to many other animals.
The UK’s largest woodland charity – The Woodland Trust – urged people to use their old pumpkins for compost instead.
“Thousands of tonnes of pumpkins get thrown away in the UK after Halloween each year. Sadly, some of those pumpkins get dumped in our woods,” the trust said.
“Pumpkins can make wildlife such as hedgehogs ill if they eat them. Removing dumped, rotting pumpkin waste costs us time and money which we could instead be spending on vital conservation work
“Plan ahead if you’re carving a pumpkin this year. Put it in your food waste or compost bin when you’re finished, or bury it in your garden for worms and other invertebrates to enjoy.”
Forestry England’s Environment and Forest planner Andrew Stringer echoed the message.
“We see many posts on social media encouraging people to leave pumpkins in the woods for wildlife to eat, but please do not do this,” he said.
“Feeding pumpkins, or any other food in the forest, to birds, foxes, badgers, deer, and boar can spread disease and make them unwell.
“Pumpkins are also often decorated and have things such as candles in them. Animals eating the pumpkins could then eat a foreign object and this could kill them.”
READ MORE: Woodland Trust’s best winter walks
We’re building an outdoors community on Reddit. Come join us here… r/outdoorsnews.
You can follow Ever Wild Outdoors on Twitter… @EWO_tweets